Director Eric Guirado's The Grocer's Son is a small, self-assured film that moves at its own pace, always staying one graceful step ahead of its reluctant protagonist. City boy Antoine (Nicolas Cazalé) has a built-in curl to his lip and a sleek, dark velvet brow; resentment is the air he breathes, so when the source of it—his father, a rural grocer—is felled by a heart attack, it takes some serious guilt-tripping to draw him back into the family business in the French countryside. Accompanied to the family homestead by a burgeoning crush named Claire (Regular Lovers' Clotilde Hesme), Antoine picks up his father's grocery route and immediately alienates the locals with his brusque, patronizing airs. Claire gives him some lessons in the human touch, and is rewarded with a sabotaging dose of Antoine's aspirational complex; he wants to keep her expectations below par, even as he loathes his father for similar treatment. Guirado's story—as humble as the old folks here who can make a day out of purchasing an aubergine—is inflected with immense emotion, mining the quotidian for its deeper charms and exploring how the individuals in a family dynamic shape and reshape each other. As Antoine slowly reassimilates into the family and community, his gradual comfort in being needed suggests one definition of adulthood: when rebellion against routine gives way to respect for tradition.
Crush object Hesme.
Opens at Harvard Exit, Fri., Oct. 10. Not rated. 96 minutes.