October 16, 2008

300 Words About: The Grocer's Son

(Ed. Note: This review was originally posted on April 28th, 2008, but the film opens in Minneapolis tomorrow and it deserves the spotlight again.)

I don't think I'm any form of synesthete, but I find that some films I see almost have a "taste" or "flavor" to them. Is that weird? Such was the case with The Grocer's Son (Le Fils de L'íepicier), a romantic dramedy by the young French writer/director Eric Guirado. Filmed primarily in the French countryside, it's a feast for the senses. You smell the summer air, hear nature's orchestra, and taste the fresh food. None of this has much to do with the story, but it shows the affectionate warmth Guirado has for all aspects of his film, including the characters.

Antoine (Nicolas Cazalé) is a self-centered bachelor who 10 years ago left his parents and his family grocery in Provence for the bright lights of Lyon. When his father suffers a heart attack, Antoine moves home for the summer to help his mother and drive the grocery-mobile on its daily route along the winding country roads in the south of France. Fortunately for him, his friend and secret crush, Claire (Clotilde Hesme), is looking for a secluded place to study for her graduate school exams, and accepts his offer to join him in Provence. What Antoine hopes will be a perfect summer soon turns sour as he faces boredom with his job, quarrels with his dysfunctional family, and frustration with the free-spirited Claire's disinterest in him, not to mention her unwavering plan to move to Spain at summer's end.

Guirado writes great comedy, relatable drama, and most importantly, likable characters - elements a lot of similar American films (Margot at the Wedding) are sorely lacking. Nobody's falling all over each other trying to be too witty and sarcastic, and there aren't outrageous situations (Little Miss Sunshine) that exist only for cheap comedy. In other words, we enjoy a fresh, believable version of what is, in essence, a really simple story. The acting is terrific across the board, wonderfully led by the tender and honest moments between Hesme and Cazalé, who bears an uncanny resemblance to fellow Frenchman Olivier Martinez (Unfaithful).

If you happen to be in the mood for a beautifully shot, skillfully acted and thoughtfully written film featuring a great soundtrack (and why wouldn't you be?), The Grocer's Son will leave you smiling. It was picked up by Film Movement last month for distribution, so keep an eye out for its availability in the next year.


  1. what song plays at the end of this film?

    I adored this film what a gem!

  2. Thanks for the visit, anonymous - and for dusting this one off. I was just thinking about it again the other day, and now that it's been released in New York, I'm tempted to throw a Best of 2008 label on it. I just might.

    Unfortunately I don't know what that amazing song is. It's the perfect capstone to the movie. Tragically, the official website is currently down. Horrible timing. Well, hopefully this one gets some buzz going over the summer. Seems like it has a fragile existence right now.

  3. the song is "waterfall" by the icelandic band Without Gravity. you can buy the soundtrack for this fantastic film at http://www.caleson-prod.com/boutique.html



  4. Thank you, m! Lots of people end up here searching for soundtrack information somehow, and it's now available forever thanks to you.

    I'd like to see this movie again.

  5. Yes, I remember you recommending this delightful film to me months ago and of my heeding your advice and seeing it at the Cinema Village. I didn't actually review it (there are a number of films I haven't reviewed) but I thought it was a sensory and feel-good film that did leave a lasting impression. Your review does it full justice.

  6. Thanks, Sam - I only know of you and Craig who have seen this movie. I hope that total will go up in the near future...

    It's getting tough for me to start picking and choosing which movies to review and which to just watch, but I'm glad I took the time to at least jot some thoughts down about this one during the festival.

  7. Just finished watching the movie. Very light movie with a beautiful story. Reminded me of the little town I grew up at.. the song at the end of the movie was beautiful (was searching for the song when I ran into this blog)

  8. Glad you found your way here, anonymous! You aren't the only one who lands here looking for info on the soundtrack. Hopefully you've found it through the link another anonymous commenter provided. I love how anonymous this whole thread has been.

    And as far as this movie is concerned it was #21 out of the best movies I saw last year. Just didn't find room for it in my Top 10 or Honorably Mentioned 10, but really hoped to.

  9. Have just finished watching THE GROCER'S SON and found it an extremely sensitive and entertaining experience. The French countryside was illuminated by fine performances and a delicious script full of wry humour and enough eccentric ,aged Gallic performers to laugh with and at... Loved the fine song which can be heard during the closing credits, I presume this was "Waterfall" by Iceland's WITHOUT GRAVITY...I'm already a huge fan of SIGUR ROS, so alongside BJORK it seems some fabulous music is coming out of Iceland.. I'd heartily recommend THE GROCER'S SON to anyone crying out to escape from Hollywoods formulaic tosh and the heartless CGI generated crap.... Steve Sulliva

  10. I can't add much to your comments, Steve, but I'm having fond memories this week about The Grocer's Son as our festival is kicking off again. It was one of my favorites from last spring. I never did get the soundtrack - think I'd like to see the movie again before doing so. Thanks for commenting.

  11. A question about the link (http://www.caleson-prod.com/boutique.html)...

    Can this cd be purchased and posted internationally?

  12. Hi, Mai, thanks for visiting. Unfortunately, for being the #1 Google search result for "the grocer's son soundtrack", I'm a bit lacking for helpful information. I've checked out that link Anon mentioned but like you, I don't speak French and am not sure about the international shipping info.

    If you follow the purchase link through to PayPal it's still in French, but I'm pretty sure if you have a PayPal account then they should be able to ship it to the address you have on file. I would say it's probably just fine for international orders, and worst case scenario you're out 11 Euros. It's the only way to get this soundtrack that I'm aware of, though.

  13. Hi, has anyone actually managed to get a hold of the soundtrack yet? I have only recently seen this film as I am in new zealand and it's only just come out here! fell in love with the film...and soundtrack, and going on a recommendation and the help of google I found this blog. Would be great to know if it has been successfully purchased as regrettably I cannot read the french website suggested!!



  14. Hi, Chloe. Thanks for your interest and I'm glad you enjoyed the film as well. I've noticed it's available for online streaming on Netflix at the moment, for others who have missed this gem.

    You know what, the more I look around for information about the soundtrack for The Grocer's Son, the more I realize a.) this literally has to be one of the most sought after soundtracks in the world right now (e.g., desperately seeking in Australia), and b.) almost every single review - nearly every one - mentions how great the soundtrack is.

    In other words, somebody at Caleson Productions (who evidently own the rights to the soundtrack) is missing an incredible business opportunity.

    It's just amazing that something in such high demand isn't being made more available. It can't be that difficult to reproduce this disc and sell it through Amazon.

    As noted a couple of comments ago, if you can't speak French you're basically buying this blind direct from Paris, which a minority of people would be willing to do. However, I've used a website translator and the pre-PayPal page seems legit.

    Another option, of course, is illegally downloading it. Just kidding - I'm sure it probably doesn't work, and it's as risky as completing a PayPal transaction in a language you don't understand.

    So I don't know how the international shipping works, unfortunately, and it may remain a mystery unless someone comments here after ordering. Which may be me - after messing around with trying to translate the PayPal order page I might have accidentally purchased a copy. Or a hundred. Who knows...

  15. Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for your reply. I did actually email Caleson Productions (caleson@caleson-prod.com) stating that I was interested in purchasing a copy and enquiring about delivery, and this is the reply I got:

    Dear Chloe.
    Here is the link to buy the soundtrack of le fils de l'épicier. http://www.caleson-prod.com/boutique.html
    Don't worry about the delivery, we'll receive it about 2 weeks after your order.
    Best regards.

    Christophe Boutin

    I'm not sure if that's any more help to anyone! But think I will take the risk and give it a go!

    Will keep you posted with results.....

  16. Thanks for checking back in, Chloe, even with such a frustrating response from Caleson Productions! It seems like it may be as easy as getting it from them, but it still seems like they're underestimating the business they could be doing with it.

    Best of luck with the order and thanks for your leadership in this year-long global quest to hear some great music. I actually did not accidentally order a copy, so the shipping is still a mystery pending the outcome of your order.

  17. I purchased this CD at the Caleson website. The site is legitimate. I received the CD within less than a week. When I selected my country (Australia) on the Paypal payment page, the page automatically converted to English so it was easy to complete these details.

    However, I do have a warning for anyone considering purchasing the CD. It was *extremely* disappointing. 2 of the 11 tracks are just ambiance noises (no music), most of the remaining music tracks are very short (all less than 3 mins), many of them are half-dialogue and half-music, and the tracks which are mostly music have the film dialogue over the top (almost seems like it's just been lifted straight from the movie). The only saving grace of this album is the beautiful song "Waterfall". However, this was hardly worth the price of the CD. I would recommend that you search for this song elsewhere.

  18. Thanks, Anonymous! I and a million other people appreciate you taking the time to explain the situation here.

    Tough news about the actual make-up of the soundtrack, though. I hope that techno song Antoine's brother plays in the car isn't one of those. I guess you really are paying for that closing song, "Waterfall".

    Thanks again for closing the loop on this. Case closed...?

  19. Hi everyone, thanks for all your posts. No, I haven't purchased the CD considering the review from Anonymous. And I haven't managed to find it anywhere else online either, so it looks like I'll give up - unless someone else is has managed to source the soundtrack?

  20. Thanks for finding your way back, Mai. I've not heard anything else about a potential new source for the soundtrack (i.e., Amazon, iTunes). Looks like it's still only available via Caleson, though maybe you can track down that one song "Waterfall" by other means.

  21. Hi Daniel, I did manage to find Waterfall. Great song! :)

  22. Wow, I just saw the movie and liked it but was blown away by the Waterfall song at the end. Just ordered the CD on Amazon.

  23. Matt, did you really find the official soundtrack CD on Amazon? I've never seen it listed there (at least on the U.S. site) and still can't see it!

  24. Hi, I recently saw the film, loved it and bought the soundtrack online from Caleson in France. It was about 12 euros and arrived within a week (I live in the UK). It was a bit of a risk, given that I don't speak French and couldn't follow the instructions properly, but I had faith, and it turned up :)


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