VINTNER'S LUCK, THE: DVD
In 19th century France, aspiring young peasant vigneron, Sobran (Jérémie Renier), frustrated by growing wines for a chateau that doesn't make a good drop, is intent on making the perfect wine. In his desperation, he makes a deal with an angel (Gaspard Ulliel) who promises to help him, but Sobran has to endure a series of misfortunes, and his wife Celeste (Keisha Castle-Hughes) becomes jealous of his friendship with baroness Aurora de Valday (Vera Farmiga).
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Niki Caro's sensitive and moving drama Whale Rider (2002) marked her as a filmmaker to watch; like The Vintner's Luck, Caro also adapted the film from a book. This time, her choices are less sure, less successful.
After a clumsy, underlit start, this over-ambitious fantasy drama stumbles into the web of adaptation hell as it tries to give flight to the writer's imagination. Bogged down by a ponderous score and a mish-mash of French accented English dialogue (some of it embarrassingly fake), the film hacks at the basic story but fails to engage. The first meeting between aspiring wine maker Sobran (Jérémie Renier) and the winged chap Xas (Gaspard Ulliel) who offers to help is a creak affair, when it should be magical. This guy's an angel, for heaven's sake - and a master winemaker (who seems to have a garden of his own).
This sort of magic realism in a film could work well, but it doesn't in this case. It's flat and uninspired. The best scenes are feasts and carnivals, but too often the camera is too impatient and what pleasure could be had from the beautiful bucolic settings are quashed.
Vera Fermiga stands out as the baroness, delivering a tangible character as she bargains to exchange her full support of Sobran's winemaking adventures in return for his knowledge. But it's too little to rescue the film.
Published May 28, 2010
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VINTNER'S LUCK, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Jérémie Reiner, Gaspard Ulliel, Vera Farmiga, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Patrice Valota, Vania Vilers, Eric Gordon, Lizzie Brochere
PRODUCER: Ludi Boeken, Niki Caro, Pascal Judelewicz, Robin Laing, Laurie Parker
DIRECTOR: Niki Caro
SCRIPT: Niki Caro, Joan Scheckel (novel by Elizabeth Knox)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Denis Lenoir
EDITOR: David Coulson
MUSIC: Antonio Pinto
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Grant Major
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Limited release: Sydney, Canberra, Portside: January 14, 2010
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
DVD RELEASE: May 28, 2010
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.