Minor complications ensue when Marina decides to come visit her runaway husband, with their daughter Laura (Paula Brancati) in tow. But Marco is on a redemptive roll, and they quickly overcome their anger and skepticism and get sucked into the whole “leave everything behind, this is so romantic, let’s just do this” vibe. “This whole Italian adventure somehow fixed everything!” Marina exclaims. She would make a great film critic. Everything is neatly and rapidly resolved.
If it were not for Pantoliano, this concoction, like bad wine, could’ve soured fast. A seemingly unconventional choice for the lead role in a film like this, the actor knocks it out of the park. He takes unexpected turns when the script allows him, catching us off-guard here and there with a sudden dry smile, or a longing expression that speaks volumes. His rapport with the town’s peculiar inhabitants – including Enzo (Tony Nappo), who likes to prance around naked – is lively and endearing, despite the language barrier. Even the bits involving his family – the most strained ones in the film – are anchored by the stalwart’s charisma.
“A seemingly unconventional choice for the lead role in a film like this, [Pantoliano] .”
Cisterna seems aware of the inherent clichés that come hand-in-hand with such a narrative, so he tries to spice things up with some odd visual embellishments. Inanimate objects come to brief life throughout the narrative: Christ’s eyes swing from side to side in a church (it’s as creepy as it sounds), statues of lions raise and bow their heads, porcelain angels wink and smile, even grape vines converse with our hero. If the filmmaker were to follow up and make his entire film as surreal and filled with non-sequiturs, this might have worked, but as it stands, those moments form a stark contrast to old adages such as, “sometimes, dreams come true,” which are all over From the Vine.
Cisterna, along with his screenwriter Willem Wennekers, toy with some hefty themes: the shadows parents cast on their children, environmental issues, the responsibility of leaving behind a company where dozens of people depend on you, the responsibility of leaving behind a family that depends on you. Yet they never explore any of those issues, preferring to sweep any semblance of depth under the rustic Italian rug. That said, there’s a genuinely heartfelt sequence of Marina and Marco whispering sweet nothings to each other – and consequently reconnecting – while stomping on grapes. From the Vine makes up for its utter dearth of originality with sheer affability. Curl up with a nice glass of Antinori Tignanello and enjoy.
"…seems aware of the inherent clichés that come hand-in-hand with such a narrative"