Review: ‘The Vineyard’

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.

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.

The Vineyard

Uruguay-Chile

Production

A Buena Vista Intl. presentation of an Aura Producciones Internacionales and Nueva Imagen production. Produced by Nelson Stratta, Fernando Acuna, Esteban Schroeder.

Crew

Directed by Esteban Schroeder. Screenplay, Schroeder, Pablo Vierci. Camera (color, video-to-35mm), Ricardo di Angelis; editor, Daniel Manquez; music, Gabriel Markarian; production designer, Gonzalo Varela. Reviewed at World Film Festival, Montreal (Latin American Cinema), Aug. 28, 2000. Original title: El vinedo. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

With: Danilo Rodriguez, Liliana Garcia, Fernando Kliche, Eduardo Guerrero, Martin Linares, Sara Laroca, Mario Aguerre.
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