Niels Arestrup may be the most commandingly passive-aggressive father figure in the current cinema.
In films such as A Prophet, the upcoming Our Children and, this week, You Will Be My Son, the leonine Arestrup plays a series of patriarchs with distinctly ambivalent relationships with their sons (though he was a father figure, rather than actual father, in A Prophet). You Will Be My Son is a fascinating study of behavior: The domineering but always courtly Paul de Marseul, as played by Arestrup, casually but purposely disrupts the lives of everyone around him to achieve his own ends.
Paul owns an estate that bottles award-winning wine beloved of oenophiles. But when his winery's manager, Francois (Patrick Chesnais), is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Paul realizes he faces what, to him, is a stark future. Francois has been his right hand, a man whose palate and viniculture skills are the equal of Paul's, though always in service to Paul's tastes and vision.
Paul's only child, his son, Martin (Lorant Deutsch), is a plodder, to whom Paul has delegated the scutwork, including marketing and distribution. Martin, however, has a college degree in viniculture and believes he has the wine-making skills to replace Francois. His father alternately belittles and ignores him, then changes his mind and decides to give Martin a chance to prove he can replace Francois.
This review continues on my website.