Vintner's Luck, The (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 26-May-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 126:07 (Case: 121)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Niki Caro
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Jérémie Renier
Gaspard Ulliel
Vera Farmiga
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Patrice Valota
Vania Vilers
Eric Godon
Lizzie Brocheré
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $46.95 Music Antonio Pinto


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     A few years ago, a director from New Zealand, Niki Caro burst onto the independent movie scene with a film called Whale Rider starring a young girl Keisha Castle-Hughes. It was a critical and commercial success, garnering many awards and nominations. More recently, Caro and Castle-Hughes reteamed to make this determinedly uncommercial film, The Vintner's Luck, based on a novel of the same name by Elizabeth Swan. Uncommercial is not necessarily a bad thing and this film certainly has a different and interesting premise. The first hour and a half is really quite engaging (in an offbeat sort of way) however at that point the story takes a turn toward the weird rather than interesting.

     The story is a romantic dramatic fantasy set in France in the early 1800s. A young peasant Sobran Jodeau (Jeremie Renier) works hard growing grapes for the local chateau which he believes uses them to churn out substandard wine. He wants badly to become a great winemaker. His father does not want him to marry the girl he loves, Celeste (Castle-Hughes), because her father was mad. One night as he is drunkenly wandering the vineyard, an angel Xas (Gaspard Ulliel) appears to him and offers to provide him advice on life and making wine. He promises to return each year on the same day until Sobran dies. In order to earn money so that he can start his dream, he signs up to fight for Napoleon in Russia. He survives but only just and returns to his land. He has made friends with the local Marquis and when he dies, the estate is taken over by Baroness Aurora (Vera Farmiga), the niece of the Marquis. Sobran offers to work with her to make wine for the chateau starting a deep and increasingly personal relationship with her despite being married to Celeste. His winemaking becomes very successful and the wines of the chateau become very well known. The film follows these three critical relationships in his life as they evolve.

     The theme of the film is really about the 'terroir' of a wine, which is the idea that wine takes on the tastes and aromas of the land where it is grown and also (certainly here anyway) the personality and experiences of the winemaker. The three characters with whom Sobran has deep relationships in his life represent three types of love, the physical (with Celeste); the intellectual (with Aurora) and the spiritual (with Xas). The stranger parts of the story involve (amongst other things) the spread of the physical side of love to both Aurora and Xas (there are some distinctly homoerotic moments with the angel, which are certainly present in the novel it would seem). All of these loves affect his wine and his life in different ways.

     As I mentioned above this film is certainly intriguing especially for those for whom wine holds any interest. There are certainly some very positive elements such as the lovely cinematography, beautiful landscapes and some fine acting, especially from Vera Farmiga. Having said that the last half hour of the film goes in some strange directions and the story doesn't completely hold together. I have read that fans of the novel were not pleased by the interpretation on display here. Keisha Castle-Hughes did not really work for me as a French peasant either. I am certainly not sorry to have seen this film, however, I cannot really recommend it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is very good but not up to the best of Blu-ray. The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p native widescreen.

     The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout but not quite as sharp as other Blu-rays. The shadow detail was quite good, although much of the lighting was quite naturalistic. The colour was very good with no colour artefacts. The colour scheme is quite dark which suits the nature of the film although landscapes shots showed up in marvellous colours. There were no noticeable artefacts.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are very close to the spoken word and easy to read.

     There is no noticeable layer change during the program.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is very good. This DVD contains two audio options, an English DTS HD-MA 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. Neither soundtrack reveals the true power of uncompressed audio but both do a very nice job indeed.

     Dialogue was clear and easy to hear at all times although some of the accents from the French actors speaking English made lines of dialogue hard to grasp. The score features classical guitar, violin and orchestral music which is very atmospheric and sounds marvellous on the soundtrack.

     The surround speakers were used sparingly for mild effects such as rain and for providing a full soundscape for the music. The subwoofer was mostly used for music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu was simple but effective.

Interviews - (14:40, 3:36, 7:06, 3:38, 3:45, 4:47)

     A large selection of EPK style interview snippets with Niki Caro (who discusses the meaning behind the story, the crew and cast and the wings used for the angel), Jeremie Renier (who talks about his character and preparing), Gaspard Ulliel (who talks about his character, the wings and his prep), Vera Farmiga (who talks about her character and the costumes), Keisha Castle-Hughes (who talks about her career and character) and some general comments about working with Caro. They are reasonably interesting however can certainly veer towards the pretentious.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This seems to be the only Blu-ray version available globally at this point.

Summary

    An interesting, uncommercial and ultimately strange fantasy romantic drama.

    The video quality is very good. The audio quality is very good. The extras are EPK style interviews only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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