Monday, September 14, 2009

The Vintner's Luck

Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: The Vintner's Luck, directed by Niki Caro

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

Niki Caro's audacious and visually luscious new film will both delight and surprise audiences familiar with her previous work. Delving deeper into her past themes of love and identity, she explores ideas and emotions even more visceral in nature. While the film takes place in an earlier era, the complex spiritual struggles of the central character give the story a strong contemporary allure.

The nineteenth century has barely dawned in France when we meet Sobran Jodeau (Jérémie Renier, best known for his work with Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne). Sobran is a young peasant who hungers for two things in life: to win the hand of the beautiful Celeste (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and to create wine in his own vineyard. While marriage to the fiery Celeste soon follows, his wine-making ambition is considered above his station, and the patron he serves fails to put his innate skills to use. One night, however, he encounters the angel Xas (Gaspard Ulliel), who sees Sobran's passions as evidence of his profound humanity. Xas proposes that Sobran plant some vines the angel carries, and further, that they meet each year at the same time and place.

Unsettled and yet self-interested, Sobran agrees without being able to answer his own questions about who or what Xas actually is. The vines, however, are very real, and they grow and thrive. Soon Sobran encounters the next influence in his life, the proud, educated and vulnerable Baroness Aurora de Valday (Vera Farmiga). Before long, he is as deeply entangled in Aurora's emotional complexities as he is in her vineyard, leading to both spiritual and corporeal crises for everyone.

The Vintner's Luck is much more than the story of a peasant's desire to fulfill his destiny: it wrestles with the most basic questions of life, using a vineyard in Burgundy as the best possible metaphor. Caro asks us to consider earth, love, appetite, wine, sensation, God and sex through the eyes of a man driven to experience all of these things in different ways with three other beings who assist, impede and ultimately share his lust for all that life has to offer.

The movie's website is here.

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