New Zealand director Niki Caro made a name for herself with 2002’s “Whale Rider,” a canny mix of Maori myths and naturalistic performances, driven by a gifted young actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was only 12 years old at the time. After going Hollywood with the sexual-harassment lawsuit drama “North Country” in 2005, Caro is back in the realm of the mythic again with “The Vintner’s Luck,” and — even more promising — she’s also got Castle-Hughes in her cast.
Based on the novel by fellow kiwi Elizabeth Knox, “The Vintner’s Luck” follows the travails of a 19th-century French peasant named Sobran (played by Jeremie Renier, a regular in the Dardennes brothers’ films), who works on a Burgundy cha^teau tending the vineyards. Despite his lowly position, Sobran is convinced he knows his wine, and that he can make a better one than his masters. One drunken night he encounters an angel, Xas (Gaspard Ulliel, “A Very Long Engagement”), who encourages him to plant his own vines.