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VINTNER'S LUCK, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
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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CRITICAL COUNT
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Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

VINTNER'S LUCK, THE: DVD (M)
(France/NZ, 2009)

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

PRESENTATION: 16:9

SPECIAL FEATURES: .

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon

DVD RELEASE: May 28, 2010







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