What a joy to watch Amy Poehler’s Wine Country and see what happens when a superbly talented group of women come together to produce something creative. It’s a well-directed, femme-centric film about a group of lifelong gal pals who embark on a weekend trip to Napa Valley to celebrate their friend’s 50th birthday.
Poehler helms from a strong script by Liz Cackowski and Emily Spivey that takes a fun yet introspective look at lifestyle, mid-life crisis, and the wide range of ups and downs that come with decades of friendship. She is adept at exploring the tension, unspoken fear, anger and frustration that simmer just below the surface along with exuberant self-discovery to reveal why turning 50 is so much more than just a number.
Wine Country features an amazing group of actors in the main roles including Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, and Paula Pell, along with a sparkling supporting cast of memorable characters. Noteworthy is homeowner host Tammy (Tina Fey) whose sarcastic humor is always on point and the darkly perverse Tarot Card Reader, Lady Sunshine (Cherry Jones), whose depressing interpretations are anything but sunny.
While Wine Country examines familiar territory for women, everything about its approach is refreshing, entertaining, and uplifting. The production quality is also excellent. Noteworthy are the contributions of DP Tom Magill, editor Julie Monroe, composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin whose exhilarating selection of music underscores the film’s pivotal moments, and costume designer Kirston Leigh Mann whose spot-on choices define the characters so well.
This Netflix Original is one of the best films I’ve seen this year.