My inbox is constantly bombarded with various press releases, most of which are wine related – new products, recent releases, etc. But, I suspect that I am often included on random releases simply because they somehow found my website (and an active e-mail address).
These latter missives generally have nothing to do with anything I write about or have an interest in. Stowe, VT? Clothing swaps? And, most recently, a request to write about a tool that removes unwanted e-mails from your inbox (do they even see the irony?)
But, on occasion, the query is tangential, but interesting. Last month, I was invited to pre-screen a movie titled, Vino Veritas (loosely translated as “in wine is truth”). Intrigued by the trailer, I agreed and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the movie, which was released via iTunes and VOD through Gravitas Ventures on January 15.
For those of you who may wish to see the movie, I will caution you to stop reading right now. In other words — Spoiler Alert!
But, if I haven’t scared you off, I invite you to keeping reading…
While the publicist characterized the film as being “wine-centric,” his statement is a bit exaggerated because this is NOT a film about wine. Instead, wine is primarily used as a plot device rather than being the main topic of the movie.
Interestingly, as wine consumption becomes more popular in the U.S., it is finding its way into cultural expression – television, movies, books, etc. Yet, despite its increased acceptance, wine (and alcohol in general) is frequently demonized. While this film doesn’t demonize wine, it does cast it in an ominous light – imbuing the wine in question with mystical properties that compel imbibers to tell the truth.
Moreover, wine features heavily as a character trait of one of the protagonists. Appearing to rely on old stereotypes about wine, the film depicts Ridley as being a snob as a result of his knowledge and enjoyment of fine wine and pursuit of formal credentials, while the “common folk” characters reach for beer.
Given that this film is an adaption of David MacGregor’s 2008 play of the same name, I wonder if some of this thinking about wine has changed in the intervening five years.
But, as noted, this is not a wine movie. Instead, it is a film that explores the universal theme of truth, and how it relates to dealing with modern issues such as the burdens of parenthood and owning one’s sexual identity.
Tackling the issue of parenthood, the conversation among the four characters — particularly between the two women – pushes the boundaries of what is socially acceptable to admit as a parent. Mourning the loss of one’s identity (i.e. I want to be more than just __’s mother); the loss of freedom and adventure; and the loss of relationship between husband and wife, under the influence of the “magical wine”, the women break the taboo of expressing any sentiment regarding motherhood as anything other than that of doting mom by openly admitting there are negative aspects associated with being a parent.
Addressing another societal taboo, the film’s discussion of sexual identity centers on sexual expression and, more specifically, how one likes to engage in and enjoy sex. Here, one wife’s admission of her sexual preferences for rough sex is vilified– with the implication that she is a “slut” or “whore” for her sexual deviance. Meanwhile, there appears to be less condemnation of her husband’s sexual transgressions; while not expressly condoning infidelity, it seems to excuse the behavior in a “boys will be boys” sort of way.
As the evening winds to a close, for one couple, the truth will set them free. But for the other, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men, they can’t handle the truth.
In fact, this couple is so abhorred by the revelations made by each other that neither can bear to live with this knowledge. Rather than find a way to meet each other’s sexual needs or accept their partner for who they truly are, they would prefer to be blissfully ignorant. What a sad commentary on a marriage, but likely the reality for many actual couples.
Directed by Sarah Knight, the film’s production was unusual in several ways, as described by the Director’s Statement, included in the press kit. Specifically, as a theatre director, Sarah “…only wanted to cast actors with theatre backgrounds as this film was going to live and die on the performances.”
In addition to the performers’ backgrounds, Sarah notes that, “…by the final rehearsal day we just ran the show in its entirety like a play!” and actual shooting took place “…almost completely in sequence.” Finally, they “…often shot very long takes and occasionally filmed entire scenes in one take…”
This nontraditional treatment emphasized the film’s origin as a piece for the stage and pulled the story together in a very fluid, natural way.
Well written, with believable characters, the film is not only enjoyable on a comedic level, but pushes the audience to think about how honesty –real, raw honesty– will impact their lives. Can they bear to reveal their own naked truth to themselves, their spouses, friends or the world at large?
If Vino Veritas is indeed the case, I for one think that we all should drink more wine!