Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Vintner's Luck: Movie Review

The Vintner's Luck: Movie Review

Rating: 6/10
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Gaspard Ulliel, Jeremie Renier, Vera Farmiga
Director: Niki Caro
From the much loved book by Elizabeth Knox, and with the reteaming of Niki Caro and Keisha Castle-Hughes, there's a lot of attention and a lot riding on The Vintner's Luck.
It's the tale of Sobran Jodeau (Jeremie Renier) and is set in 19th Century France.
Sobran is a peasant wine maker who has the ambition and desire to produce his own vintage but faces difficulties from not only the land, but also the problems of his place in society.
One day, he's confronted by an angel Xas (Gaspard Ulliel) who tells him that he will give him the help he needs to produce an exquisite vintage and make his name in the world.
Sobran accepts the offer - but is unprepared for what the future has in store for him, his family and those around him.
The Vintner's Luck is a sweeping sumptuous tale of lust, ambition, desire, wine and majestic countryside - but it's also an ode to the earth around us. Director Niki Caro peppers the film throughout with shots of the nature all around - as workers cull the grapes from the vine, we're shown shots of bugs, creepy crawlies and worms permeating the earth. It's a nice touch of respect to the world around us.
There's a very pagan feel to this celebration of the land - and it manages to convey the majesty of nature's bounty.
However, when it comes to the human talent in the story itself, it's a slightly different story.
Jeremie Renier puts in a fair performance as Jodeau - he conveys the right amount of petulance and ambition for someone who wants to better their position but I never really warmed to him through the film's duration - even when he's put through the emotional wringer, it's hard to sympathise for him.
Keisha Castle-Hughes is all scowls and lust - and puts in a wonderfully understated performance; however, you can't help but feel that she's underused in this. It would have been great to see more of her onscreen as she's such a presence.

The Angel Xas infuriates after a while as he dispenses bon mots such as life is pleasure and pain and you have to have both. And as for the scene which is supposed to see Xas and Sobran in love, it ends up feeling more of a weird wrestling fight than an intimate moment.

Overall, The Vintner's Luck is beautifully sumptuous in some parts and soars in places - however, I'm afraid to say it's slightly flawed in others. While it's not as bad as the savaging reviews from Toronto would suggest, you may leave feeling ever so slightly cheated and a little let down.

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