Here’s a film recommendation for you – Le Fils de l’épicier (luh feese duh lay-pea-sea-ay), which means The Grocer’s Son. I got it to show to my French IV class, but I’ve fallen for it myself. It’s the story of Antoine who goes back home to help his mother run the family grocery store while his father is recovering from a heart attack. You’ll get a real sense of life in rural Provence as Antoine drives the grocery truck on his rounds from hamlet to hamlet. There’s a love interest and host of colorful locals, like the old gentleman who pretends to be deaf to get his groceries for less.
The très beau young actor who plays 30-something Antoine who can’t get his life in order, Nicolas Cazalé, won a César for the meilleur jeune espoir masculin (most promising young male actor) for this role in 2008. The film was also nominated for, or the winner of, several other awards at smaller film festivals.
The director, Eric Guirado, came up with the idea for the story when he made a documentary about itinerant grocers for France 3 (the station that handles regional broadcasts). He met people whose lives were so isolated that they subscribed to the local daily paper just to have contact with the mailman who delivered it. It’s hard to imagine that when I live in the densely populated East Coast of the US.
The word épicier itself is related to the word épice, or spice, from the days when these were primarily spice merchants. (By the way, quite often when a word begins with “é,” just substitute an “s” to get the English equivalent.) These days, an épicier sells a lot more than just spices, but it’s still usually a small, owner-run shop where convenience is more important than having a huge selection of products. The word is also used in a pejorative sense to mean parochial or small town.
The film has English subtitles, so don’t hold back if you’re not as fluent in French as you’d like to be.
- D’épicier (onequalitythefinest.com)