VOD film review: The Year and the Vineyard
James R | On 16, Jul 2014
Director: Jonathan Cenzual Burley
Cast: Andrea Calabrese, Javier Sáez
Watch The Year and the Vineyard online in the UK: blinkbox
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
Civil War soldier Andrea (Calabrese) finds that out for himself when he stumbles through a wormhole in 1937 – and lands flat on his face in 2012. One moment he’s off to the front, thinking of his girl, the next he’s in a village in Salamanca, trampling over someone else’s vines.
“Where’s Guadalajara?” he shouts at the bewildered locals. They deduce the obvious: he’s an angel. And they call the priest.
Javier Sáez is wonderfully clueless as the man of the cloth, with the comic timing of a veteran and the naive face of a 12 year old. “Do you know who this is?” he asks, holding up a portrait of Jesus. Then tries to flap Andrea’s arms to make him fly.
Calabrese is amusingly gruff in return, his soldier more concerned with his duty to his country – and getting back to his lady. Along the way, he falls in with teacher Tomas (Fede Sánchez), who is struggling to woo his own female. Handing out experienced advice to the bashful suitor, things haven’t changed much after all, the film seems to say. Or does it?
Director Jonathan Cenzual Burley, who last made The Soul of Flies (El Alma de las Moscas), strings together the absurd humour with an amiable enough air – nothing says magic realism like a stepladder disappearing into the sky – and a heavy serving of whimsical guitar, but the script never seems to get its bearings. One conversation suggests Spain must embrace its past, another hints at moving on from it and all the while, Sáez’s priest runs around undermining Catholicism’s tradition. Is it a criticism of the present? An ode to the past? A simple tale of one man’s dedication to love? The Year and the Vineyard delivers its cute paradox in an impressively slight 75 mintes, but for all its enjoyment of tumbling through time, it never quite lands on its feet.
In the year 1937, Andrea Pesce (Andrea Calabrese), a Sicilian member of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, is on his way to the frontline when he falls through a hole in time and into present day Spain. Finding himself in a small village in the Province of Salamanca, he befriends Tomás, the village teacher (Fede Sánchez), has to deal with being confused by an angel, an over enthusiastic priest (Javier Sáez) and must make a choice between staying in a time where he doesn’t belong or trying to go back to the horrors of war and the woman he loves. From the makers of The Soul of Flies (El Alma de las Moscas) comes another surreal, moving comedy about the absurdity and perils of war and peace.