Here at In The Seats…our appetite for film is insatiable…
The 9th annual Devour! The Food Film Festival kicks off tonight in Wolfville, Nova Scotia (about an hour outside of Halifax) as attendees spend their days attending a variety of culinary events like culinary workshops, master classes, wine tours & tastings, brewery tours then in the evening screenings of food related film titles.
It’s so important in the exhibition business to not only keep the business model fresh to keep audiences engaged but also to expand the audiences for films that don’t necessarily have room at your local multiplex.
First up, the festival kicks off with From The Vine; It’s the tale of a downtrodden man (Joe Pantoliano) who experiences an ethical crisis and travels back to his hometown in rural Italy to recalibrate his moral compass. There he finds new purpose in reviving his grandfather’s old vineyard, offering the small town of Acerenza a sustainable future, and reconnecting with his estranged family in the process.
From director Sean Cisterna, From The Vine is a delightful yet admittedly predictable affair about the need in life to not live for your work but to work for your life.
Cisterna is an experience Canadian filmmaker and with From The Vine he really does manage to get the most out of a well worn formula. It looks great and as it launches into its story it’s always nice to see a Canadian film that isn’t overtly TRYING to be a Canadian film. Cisterna has always had a good sense of story, it all has a genuine flow to it as we move along and it really has a strong sense of self. That kind of narrative confidence not only comes from the script from the director leading the ship.
The script from William Wennekers does follow some beats that we’ve seen before as the comedy about a middle age man having a crisis of conscience and needing to reinvent himself isn’t exactly fresh material but the script from Wennekers and the direction from Cisterna know exactly how to play every moment. Sure the word ‘formulaic’ tends to get used in a negative connotation when talking about stuff like this but here it’s actually a strength as it’s never trying to be something more then it’s not.
Joe Pantoliano has made a career for himself over the year’s playing moments loudly and over the top with lots of vigor and vim but here he gets to be the quiet leading man and he does an excellent job of being a refreshing push against stereotype. Sure he’s having a midlife crisis, but in most movies he’d buy a sports car and have an affair with a woman half his age, but getting to see someone explore their roots in order to find genuine happiness was actually really good and a refreshing change of pace.
Both Wendy Crewson and Paula Brancati (the latter a Cisterna regular) as his long suffering wife and daughter who think that he’s gone off the deep end rather than rediscovering his ‘joie de vivre’ while some veteran character actors from the Canadian film scene round out the very solid ensemble.
Ultimately, From The Vine won’t get accused of reinventing the cinematic wheel, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and a perfect pairing for a film festival in the idyllic Nova Scotia country side.
If you’d like to learn more about Devour! The Food Film Festival you can visit their website right here because if you’re foodie and a film fan you may want to book a ticket as soon as you can.