The writer and director team behind Kiss and Cry continue to bring audiences terrific crowd-pleasers with their latest endeavour From the Vine, an endearing film about the importance of heritage and happiness.
Character actor Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, Memento, the Bad Boys series) plays Marco Gentile, a high profile businessman who arrives at a crossroads in his career and decides to favour his ambition instead of jumping through more corporate hoops. In an attempt to reconnect to his Italian roots, Marco decides to make an open-ended trip to his childhood town, Acerenza, where he immediately reconnects with old friends and a more tranquil way of life. He also makes a spontaneous decision to reopen his grandfather’s vineyard in order to find his own personal fulfilment while also assisting with the town’s shrivelled economy.
With encouraging and enchanting vigour, From the Vine touts a healthy message of cultural and personal appreciation; also reminding movie goers of life’s natural whimsy. Pantoliano, who gives a wonderfully affable performance, even has playful visions of the Italian scenery literally coming to life. The film doesn’t lean too heavily on these surreal qualities (unlike Tulipani – Love, Honour and a Bicycle which would make a great double feature with From the Vine), but only because director Sean Cisterna is aware of the natural vibrancy that thrives within loyal communities and picturesque scenery.
When Marco’s dreams of reinventing the winery are in full swing, From the Vine becomes more casual and less complicated. This is an interesting move to, perhaps, indulge in the therapeutic qualities of the location, but somewhat peculiar because the lack of problems upon Marco’s reopening makes his ambitions seem really easy. Aside from some brief tension around authorizing Marco’s new business, his family are the only ones who resist Marco’s aspirations. His wife Marina is played by Wendy Crewson and his daughter Laura is played by co-producer Paula Brancati. Both actors do a fine job, but they’ve been drawn more as obstacles rather than actual characters. I would’ve loved to have seen what Crewson and Brancati could’ve done with more substantial roles in this story.
Here’s my plea to the filmmakers: continue this story through Brancati’s character. It would be a great way for Marco to hand off his passion, gratitude, and legacy to someone who could provide a fresh perspective on the film’s resonating themes. The probability of this sequel may be low but, hey, maybe my dream can come true too.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie