Distributed by Midwest Tape
Produced by John Beymer Barbara Bruno Skipper Martin
Directed by Sarah Knight
DVD, color, 96 min.
College - General Adult
Marriage, Social Behavior
Reviewed by Tom Ipri, St. Joseph’s University
Date Entered: 2/12/2018
A Halloween get-together takes an unexpected turn for two couples when Lauren (Heather Raffo) decides to break out a rare South American wine made from the skin of blue tree frogs which she and her husband, Phil (Brian Hutchinson) got while on vacation. The legend is that this wine causes people to tell the truth. Phil warns against drinking the wine but Lauren convinces him and Claire (Carrie Preston) to imbibe. Claire’s husband, Ridley (Bernard White) abstains because he is a doctor on call.
Naturally, being compelled to tell the truth brings up long-simmering suspicions and festering secrets creating the tension that is at the heart of the film.
Based on Davis MacGregor’s stage play, Sarah Knight’s apt direction and active camera keeps the film from feeling stage bound, and all the performances (but especially Preston’s) make Vino Veritas watchable but the story wobbles under the weight of the far-fetched premise and a last minute reveal of a drug that will cause everyone to forget the night’s conflicts. The film also bears the burden of a slow build as it takes its time to set-up the premise and eases into the truth-telling with some lighter topics.
Despite the pleasing performances, the characters lack depth which is probably why they need a magical wine to initiate any drama. Unflattering comparisons to Edward Albee’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, feel inevitable as it likewise throws two couples together to learn difficult truths about each other and was similarly and famously made into a film by Mike Nichols.
Vino Veritas is modestly entertaining and competently made but not worth seeking out.