From The Vine tells the story of downtrodden CEO Marco Gentile (Joe Pantoliano), a man experiencing a moral crisis. Burned out and broken, Marco finds himself lost in a sea of corporate nonsense and he quits his job on a whim. Despite the protests of his wife, Marina (Wendy Crewson), Marco then decides to uproot his life and return to his grandfather’s old vineyard in Italy to re-calibrate his moral compass. As he reconnects with his heritage, Marco’s venture offers the surrounding town of Acerenza a sustainable future that may also signal a fresh start for his family as well.
Directed by Sean Cisterna (Kiss and Cry), From the Vine is a heart-warming film that lovingly speaks to what it means to find new life. By juxtaposing stunning Italian landscapes and charming villages with the corporate world of Toronto, the film’s serve as a testament to ‘old world’ charm. While Pantoliano does a good job engaging the material, it’s Crewson that feels like the true star of the film. Bringing heart and warmth to the role, the always endearing Crewson is simply delightful in every scene and draws in the viewer with her journey towards potential new life.
Though the film takes a slower narrative pace, Vine comes together like a beautiful piece of art as it progresses. Like a good wine, the film becomes full bodied over time, for those willing to have the patience to wait. Blending Italian neorealism with magic realism, the film is an interesting mix of mythical whimsy and sweet reality that speaks to the value of maintaining ‘the old ways’. Admittedly, this particular blending of styles can feel oddly jarring at times. (Any film that attempts to be grounded yet features talking grapevines and visitations of deceased relatives is bound to feel at least a little unique in places.) Even so, From the Vine’s charm and warmth eventually grows on the viewer.
Although his family feels that he’s having a mid-life crisis, Marco argues that what he’s experiencing is more meaningful than that. A workaholic for most of his life, Marco begins as a man who is utterly disconnected from his wife, daughter and his own soul. As a result, the decision to return to his Grandfather’s vineyard stems from a quest to reconnect with his roots. Like the (almost) abandoned vineyard his discovers on his return, Marco’s soul is broken down and has been almost abandoned due to lack of care.
However, as he grows more deeply involved with the community and vineyard, Marco begins to rediscover a sense of purpose. As he slows down, learns patience and invests in the lives of others, Marco’s world is reframed as he finds life amidst the rubble of his soul. For example, when his wife challenges him to return to their lives back home, he responds with the poignant, “We don’t have lives there. We have jobs.” For Marco, hope and new life springs up from slowing down and starting over and his great hope is that his family will experience the same inner refreshing as well.
Even though the pacing of the film may be slower than one might expect, Vine is a venture worth taking. As a matter of fact, the film’s pacing proves to be precisely the point. As he learns to care for his heart as opposed to nurturing his addiction to the corporate world, Marco’s journey to inner healing and newness proves to be a soul-pleasing experience. As a result, like the wine they create, From the Vine is a film that is sweet to taste.
For audio of our interview with director Sean Cisterna, click here.
From the Vine premieres on VOD on July 10th, 2020.