on 4 April 2011
Yes, it's going to disappoint people who love the book, because it is so very much pared down. The film would have had to be very long to cover the same ground as the book, which goes from 1808-63 in some detail, and then takes you into the present day. The film is so beautiful that I'd have had the patience to watch it for four or five hours, but perhaps that wasn't practicable. As it is, the best thing is to regard the film as showing you scenes from the book, and then imagine the rest for yourself as you read the book again. But if it's true that a lot more was shot and discarded, then we should hope for a 'director's cut' in due course - or at least a release of the DVD with 'deleted scenes'. Renier, Ulliel and Farmiga play with exquisite sensitivity, and the filming is beautiful. The scene where Xas takes wing and plays with Sobran is enough by itself to earn the film five stars.
on 14 January 2011
I bought this on a whim, and I have to say that I rather enjoyed it.
An utterly beautiful film, with exquisite cinematography. Every shot carefully planned. Much of the story can be told through the details of the shots as much as the story itself. I found it hard to take my eyes off it, it just looked so wonderful.
An excellent, very well thought out story about a Vintner with a 'guardian angel', we follow him through his life, from when he meets the angel for the first time as a young man, to his death after a long, hard life working on his vines to create the perfect wine. I felt truly sorry when things went bad for him, and my heart soared when things were good.
The main character, Sobran, was great, very clear and well thought out, as I said before, he was very real and you really felt for him. His wife seemed to be important to the story, but she didn't seem to have much of a personality, and seemed to be lacking, which was the same with almost all the other characters, excluding the Vintner himself, and his Angel. I was actually very sorry that there wasn't more of the angel in this film, as he was by far my favourite character, but he only turns up once a year. I was really hoping for some more romance between the Vintner and the angel, but alas, there was hardly any, and it never went anywhere.
I think maybe I must have misunderstood or misread the blurb from the dvd, but I think I was expecting this to be more along the lines of Sobran living with the Angel, Xas, and he was in love with the two women, Celeste and Aurora, and loved each equally and couldn't decide, and that perhaps the Angel loved him, but he also ended up with one of the women. However, I was completely and utterly wrong. And unfortunately for me, I think that the film I desperately wanted to see was the one I was expecting, not the one I got.
Be aware that you might find yourself with your ear very close to the tv, or turning the volume up at some points, as I found that a lot of the time, it wasn't clear what was being said, especially during some of the conversations between Xas and Sobran.
So I'd say this is a film worth watching, but I'm not sure I'd watch it again. Enjoyable, but a little lacking in interesting characters and a variety in storyline. However, I will be looking into reading the book, because I think there might have been a lot of great details missed out of the film.
on 27 March 2015
Please be aware that there are spoilers in this review!
I purchased The Vintner’s Luck because Keisher Castle-Hughes is in the cast – having seen her previously in some other films (Hey, Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, Whale Rider and Red Dog) that I had enjoyed. I knew nothing of the plot of The Vintner’s Luck, but having watched other films where I have known (some of) the cast but nothing of the plot and having been rewarded with enjoyable films, I was happy to do just that with this film, but there was my mistake.
Now to be fair, if I knew the plot of this film I may not have purchased the DVD. The main, but not only aspect of this film that I didn’t like was the need to have a belief like that of a five-year-old child that angels, complete with clichéd very large white feathered wings, exist. As I said though, my fault for not reading a synopsis. Just as disappointing for me was finding that most, if not all, of the dialogue had been recorded in post-production, giving a very unnatural sound to much of what was spoken.
On top of that, the plot, such as it was, was somewhat lightweight and repetitive. Yes there is some pleasant scenery in the film but such images have often been photographed much better in other films, for example the photography in The Return Of Martin Guerre shows rural, peasant France much more convincingly.
Keisha Castle-Hughes is an Oscar nominated actress, but sadly for me she was very much in a supporting role in The Vintner’s Luck. So all round, this was a very disappointing film for me.
I guess this is one for fans of angels and dubbed dialogue.
On the DVD you get:
The Vintner’s Luck (2:01)
Set-up: 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS Surround 5.1
Optional English Subtitles for the hard of hearing.
It is a New Zealand and French co-production but the language is English only.
on 30 November 2014
I'd heard this film was a complete vandalism of the book. It certainly misses the book's best content, but what it does include it does nicely. The humanist themes of making the most of the one life we do have, friendship and the imprint of ourselves on the things that we make are strong.
I really wanted to like this film but feared I wouldn't ... fantasy is so difficult to bring off, and the result is somewhat insubstantial. Having the main character go off to fight in the Napoleonic Wars seemed to be saying that the film was serious, which sat rather incongruously with the appearance of the angel and some rather indulgent wine-tasting scenes. The whole thing is slightly thin, with much more texture and surface appeal than content. It's a bit like looking at a very well illustrated children's book, so that the introduction of further weighty subjects like infant mortality and cancer jars a bit with the lyrical, even magical cinematic style.
On the plus side, it is superbly acted. Jeremie Renier is never less than compelling in any film, and here he is on screen most of the time, and gets the ambiguity of the character's responses in a way that goes a long way towards compensating for the narrative style of the film. Gaspard Ulliel is most striking as the angel; physically it is hard to imagine anyone being more suited to embody such a being, and he has the mystery and gentleness as well as the power - part Herculean, part doe-like. Their scenes together work very well, if only they'd been longer and gone further. The other relationships were less interesting, particularly with the wife, who made almost no impression on me and even at the end looked about twenty, acting alongside her own daughter who must have been well into middle-age. She isn't helped by having so few lines, so that she is little more than a cipher, a projection of Sobran's earthy nature. The noblewoman played by Vera Farmiga is rather better, but their romance fails to take off fully. As I say, the angel was the key to making this a good film, and it should have been far more the story of a bisexual winegrower. The swirling camerawork could have been kept for those scenes, offset by a more static, documentary style in the real-life sequences, which would have given them more substance. It could have been a cross between Agnes Varda's The Gleaners And I and Wings Of Desire, perhaps, and been a truly original hybrid. As it is, much of it glides by in a highly mobile style that doesn't quite animate the characters from within. On second viewing I found it rather more seductive than the first, however, and it has to be said that the landscape and various weather conditions are ravishingly caught.
on 8 March 2012
Beautiful scenery, beautiful men and women - in short, a gorgeous, grape-laden visual treat! As previous reviewers have pointed out, the book is very different to the film - a vintner's luck lite! But if you treat the book and movie as two separate entities, you can have twice the pleasure! A lovely, lazy sunday afternoon film and highly recommended. Five stars.
on 28 November 2011
Having read the book, I found the movie to be a big disappointment. Too many characters and parts of the plot were left out so that in many ways this is very different to the book and not in a good way. The intense relationship between Sobre and Xas is very understated. Although French / Belgian actors Gaspard Uliel and Jeremie Renier make a good attempt to bring the movie to life, it fails to impress. Read the book (and its sequel Angel's Cut) instead.
on 8 November 2010
Having read the book a few years ago, I had high hopes when I saw that a film of it was being made. I was not disappointed with the DVD but it could have been better. Perhaps such a book is not translateable to film but in my view too much was left out and other parts were dwelt on for too long, which affected the feeling of the original story. Having said that, it was an enjoyable two hours viewing and I can recommend it as long as you do not expect an absolutely faithful rendition of the book.
on 22 July 2011
One of my favourite books turned into a disappointing movie. All the parts which made the book shine were hacked out of the movie leaving a bland, uninteresting mess behind. Read the book, ditch the movie.
on 14 March 2011
Its an average film at best, far to erratic in the way it was structured. The cast's perfomances in the main where poor with only the odd perfomance or part perfomance adding anything of worth. Truth about this is I,m sure it could have been better, but it's really just a film that looks like it had a really small budget.