A fictionalized recap of a scandalous real-life case in 1998 Uruguay, “The Vineyard” squanders tale’s potential with an approach that’s tube potboiler-ish on all levels. Beyond play in nearby Latin American territories, further export prospects are dire, given vid-shot pic’s TV look despite 35mm blowup.
Protag is Joaquin (Danilo Rodriguez), a stock laconic, hard-boiled newspaper journalist accustomed to making trouble in pursuit of a story. He’s tipped to a lower-class boy’s suspicious disappearance while recovering a mislaid soccer ball on a shady German-Chilean wine tycoon’s heavily guarded rural property. Exposure of nasty criminal deeds crawls forward despite attempted police cover-up, and pressure from Joaquin’s boss. He’s also in hot water with his neglected girlfriend, who’s fed up with his workaholic ways. Feature could have provided a potent look at corruption in the beleaguered nation, but little effort is made to contextualize events for nonlocal viewers, and poor English subtitling doesn’t help. Helmer Esteban Schroeder’s over-reliance on closeups suggests pic is intended for tube play. Ditto episodic structure, uninspired perfs, mediocre production values and overall lack of atmosphere or directorial style.