Last night we saw Niki Caro’s film of The Vintner’s Luck. Having earlier read several far from complimentary reviews we did not expect to be impressed — David Larsen in ‘The Listener’ suggested we might leave the cinema “drop-jawed and simmering”. I had always been doubtful about this enterprise, and the reviews simply confirmed my fears. Perhaps being in this state of expecting little contributed to our feeling that the film is not as bad as it might have been. But certainly it is only an oblique hint at some aspects of the book, far from any genuine visual representation of its story and ideas.
The slowness of the first two thirds of the movie mean there is no hope of it covering Sobran’s life so that suddenly in the last few minutes he is summarily stricken with tuberculosis and dies before half his story is properly told. Indeed the last third of the film is a series of crass distortions of the substance of Knox’s tale which amount to a travesty of her central characters, their beliefs, relationships and experiences.
I didn’t leave the cinema seething as i had imagined i might. But i do think that this is a film that should not have been made. It offers nothing substantial and little other than some occasional superficial prettiness. The account of the vintner, Sobran Jodeau’s luck is to be found, wonderfully, in the novel; and not at all in this film.