From The Vine (2019)

Surface level attractive with little else of serious note, From The Vine, if nothing else, is a welcome reminder of Joe Pantoliano’s presence on screen, with this beautifully shot travelogue of a movie affording him a rare leading man turn.

A CEO at something of a crossroads in his life (because, of course) Pantoliano’s Mark Gentile has paid his dues (if that) and is ready to throw in the towel at his automobile company. Not so much throwing in the towel as torpedoing it past its intended destination, Mark up and quits and sets off to a small village in Italy – Acarenza – where he intends to restore his grandfather’s vast vineyard. This is all well and good for Mark and his intention to reset his moral compass and reconnect with his heritage, but his wife, Marina (Wendy Crewson), and daughter, Laura (Paula Brancarti), have been left out of the consult and don’t take too kindly to hearing of dad’s impulsive decision.

Similar to such Europeann-set fluff pieces as Under The Tuscan Sun, A Good Year, and Paris Can Wait, From The Vine evokes a sense of deja-vu when being viewed. It’s incredibly attractive to look at – in these travel-restricted times the Italian countryside is even more appealing – but there’s not exactly any depth on hand. But films of this ilk are essentially tailor made to be this formulaic, being more about the journey than the eventual destination.

Pantoliano is charming in his everyday man type of way, and Crewson has a welcome sense of heart to her that allows her character to project beyond being the angry, disapproving wife, resulting in a predictable, though warmly intended dramedy that speaks to our own desires of marching to the beat of one’s drum without showing its message of finding individual freedom down our throats.

From The Vine is now screening in limited release in Australian theatres.

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