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!800s, Napoleonic era. Sobran Jodeau (Jérémie Renier) is an ambitious young peasant winemaker. He has three loves of his life - his beautiful wife Celeste (Keisha Castle-Hughes), the proudly intellectual baroness Aurora de Valday (Vera Farmiga) and Xas (Gaspard Ulliel), a male angel who strikes up one day each year but enduring friendship that borders on eroticism with him. Under Xas' guidance, Sobran is forced to fathom the nature of love and belief and in the process grapples with the sensual, the sacred and the profane - in pursuit of the perfect vintage. Written by
inspiring and moving look at the trials and tribulations experienced by a 19th century wine maker!
I was thrilled to hear Niki Caro was going to make this movie, no one else would have been able to portray the 'basic' elements of the novel better than she could and very well did. From start to finish the movie consisted of a real feeling of love and life. More so that she exactly put just that into making this film. The importance of simple things which when given love, sweat and time grow into something special, which if you haven't read the novel is the basic idea.
There is a heavy pagan love of the earth atmosphere in the movie ensuring an uplifting feeling. Leading me onto the visuals which where spot on, the sweeping French vineyards and valleys where just as I imagined them.
The casting was perfect, Sobran who is played by Jeremie Renier provided us with a inspiring and moving look at the trials and tribulations experienced by a 19th century wine maker. I would hate to give this remarkable film any negativity but it does bare mentioning that Xas is completely neglected. Played by the fantastic Gaspard Ulliel much that could have been anticipated was actually not used at all. In fact almost all of the characters fascinating background such as his knowledge of there whereabouts of haven and hell, his relationship with another human, other than Sobran, and the reason why he is a fallen angel is not remotely even mentioned in the movie. The angel seams to be of no importance sadly and could in fact have been withdraw all together. Niki Caro sort of justified this in the Q&A "the movie is about life". It seams to me that she didn't want to add the philosophical characteristic's which was very sad to me, Xas is a captivating individual. Aurora De Valday (Vera Farmiga) was compelling but sadly Celeste (Keisha Castle-Hughes) fell flat in the second half.
Many fans of the novel might be disappointed due to the amount of fundamental moments in the development of the characters which is simply dropped out all together. However I do strongly think that this is as great an adaptation as anyone could have hoped for. Also if its anything to go by I was at the gala presentation, after which it received a huge round of applause.
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