There is probably little I can tell you about From the Vine you can’t grasp from the poster alone.
But, in the midst of one of the most chaotic 18 months I can remember, familiarity and predictability wrapped in the warmth of Italian sun make for an intoxicating mix.
Corporate lawyer, Mark Gentile (Joe Pantoliano) is an Italian who has lived in Canada from being a small child. We meet him at a major presentation at his work that doesn’t go his way sparking a crisis that makes him want to stop the world and get off some place completely different. Don’t we all long for escapism right now?
It is a comedy, so the soul-searching is light-hearted and brings little in the way of conflict. Even long-time character actor, Pantolino feels like an old friend in the role.
Gentile buys two one-way tickets to Italy. And when his wife doesn’t jump at the idea, he leaves everything he’s known behind and heads for the village of his youth – Acerenza in southern Italy.
The cinematography is glorious and tugs at the heart of anyone missing their European trips for the last couple of years. If Italy seems more delightful than Gentile remembers, it is more beautiful than we remember too. You can get lost in the scenery – it’s a dreamscape.
Miraculously all Gentile’s school friends remember him and greet him with enthusiasm. And, in this mid-life crisis fantasy, his grandfather’s old house, although boarded up for years, is magnificent after a bit of airing. How the other half live.
A trip to the Catholic confessional nudges Gentile to get out of his head and start doing something to help others. So, he sets about restoring the property’s overgrown vineyard, providing work for the unemployed villagers, producing wine and getting drunk on the freedom of his new life.
There is of course a little bit more to the story and some eccentric characters along the way. But in the main it is a gentle, feel-good comedy, that carries us along like a lazy river – sit back, and enjoy.
From The Vine will be available in UK Cinemas from 10 September 2021 and on Digital Download from 13 September.