Getting Toasted Image

Getting Toasted marks writer-director Casey Zilbert’s feature-length debut. The New Zealand-based comedic drama is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta (a.k.a. The Sun Also Rises) and the filmmaker’s Enology studies. The story is driven less by the plot and more by the characters, which is a wise move. It’s just too bad the movie doesn’t quite stick the landing, though it starts off at a ten.

Harry (Hayden J. Weal) is all set to marry this weekend until his fiance, Fiona (Casey Zilbert), abruptly calls it off over a voice message. Though his heart is breaking, his friends, Ants (Nick Davies), a social media savvy fitness instructor, and freewheeling Jess (Gemma Easton-Knight), convince the workaholic to make the best of a bad situation. So the trio head to the would-be venue, which happens to be the vineyard Jess currently works at, to drink wine and catch up.

Harry is all set to marry this weekend until his fiance…abruptly calls it off…”

The next morning the friends are greeted by Jake (Steve Barr), Fiona’s uncle. The intrepid adventurer was not able to be reached and therefore did not know the wedding was cancelled. But, being the sporting folks they are, Harry, Ants, and Jess invite him to join their little soiree. But a few wrinkles threaten to upend what should be an inhibitions-free time to nurse heartache and get crazy. First, Ants and Jess are both dealing with some major life news. Secondly, Bella (Katrina George), Jess’ sister, shows up and begins making moves on Harry.

Getting Toasted runs a scant 82-minutes, and it is firing on all cylinders for much of that time. For starters, the cinematography is breathtaking, especially the establishing shots of and around the winery. Director of photography Brandon Te Moananui makes the setting a character in its own right. The lighting, especially during a dinner where Jess explains the “pinks” to Harry, is also stellar, capturing the feel and tone of a comedy while still being truly cinematic.

Getting Toasted (2022)

Directed and Written: Casey Zilbert

Starring: Hayden J. Weal, Nick Davies, Gemma Easton-Knight, Steve Barr, Katrina George, Casey Zilbert, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Getting Toasted Image

"…driven less by the plot and more by the characters..."

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