Directed by Josh Mitchell
Starring Josh Mitchell, Vanja Kapetanovic, Jesse O’Niell, Josh Thrower
Indie Film Review by Taryll Baker
What started out as a really fun and well-written comedy/drama, gradually turned into an unpleasantly cheesy mess. John Mitchell’s Wine Tasting was a promising concept and had me locked in from the first few scenes. It features a likeable bond between four friends, all preparing for a wine tasting exam. It was a really nice and entertaining film, but then the aftertaste kicked in. It becomes bland in story and characters. The actors no longer held my interest as they had before.
The four leads are all wonderful actors, highlighting Josh Mitchell and Jesse O’Niell, but the writing becomes lacklustre and underwhelming, thus creating a rather awkward atmosphere. That said, the film itself has a great diegesis and seems visually inspired throughout. It’s captured well by cinematographer Nathan Gregory, so although a weakness in writing is present, the soft, subtle visual storytelling is pleasing to the eye.
As aforementioned, the screenplay is a mess. It feels like scenes have been picked from the cutting room floor and placed in any nook and cranny possible, without any true meaning. The overarching story is of course lurking, but the way in which these scenes are placed feels slightly jarring. The final act, leading into the final scene is also a little adventurous. The ending itself left me feeling empty; a better direction is visible, but it never heads there. I would have preferred the story revolving around the four guys working towards earning their exam passes and wrapping it there. I suppose that’s where Wine Tasting strives to be different. It ventures past that success as we witness the lives of the characters changing. It works, but personally, I found it to be a little too ambitious.
The soundtrack is great. Compiling a handful of talented composers with an Italian-eqsue tone, providing a delightfully upbeat personality as the film progresses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover up the imperfections in the audio recording. There are moments where you can clearly see a dubbing has taken place, which is of course a big part of any film’s post-production stage, however it should look and feel as natural as possible and not as half-hearted.
Wine Tasting has a wonderful first 40 minutes, but struggles to continue the story past that. It’s an entertaining picture that culminates with a bitter and unrewarding end.