Sulky, indifferent, wayward, son Antoine reluctantly agrees to run his sick father's grocery business. Elder son Francois is far too busy trying to make good in his hairdressing salon and feels he's done enough already. Antoine is accompanied to the south of France by a neighbour, Claire, under the pretext that she would find it easier to study in the countryside, rather than in the hustle and bustle of Paris.
Antoine's utter ineptitude and inability to relate to the elderly, rustic clientele prompts Claire to develop an interest in the travelling grocery side of the business. Meanwhile, the story fairly crackles with the dialogue of family dysfunction, batting back and forth between the characters like a mountain thunder storm. Claire is a hapless by-stander as the grocer's wife does her best to retain her dignity, while the men snipe at each other.
By contrast the scenery is stunning, showing the beauty of this mountainous region of France. The aging customers served by The Van are full of life, humour, vigour and eccentricity, and there are many well-observed and humorous moments.
A `will they, won't they' theme develops between Antoine and Claire. It is tantalisingly drawn out across most of the film, adding suspense to the other tensions and frictions between expertly portrayed characters. The inept and gruff male characters are mercilessly harangued and tripped by the female characters in an attempt to make them see sense and change their views of life and relationships. Will it ever dawn on the father and his sons that the reason they have trouble with other people is their own stubborn fault?
A delightful, sweet, compelling drama. You can not fail to be delighted.