I watched Dean Spanley only because of the prominence of Tokay (also spelled Tokaji), a Hungarian wine I am partial to. What I found was an unexpected pleasure filled with layers of relationship, mystery and myth, each intertwining with the other. It is one of the most subtle, best-written movies I have seen in years.
Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos 500ml ($31.99. Scores: Wine Enthusiast - 90+, Wine Spectator - 90+)
Its unique sweet aroma draws out the Dean to remember a life much earlier than his own. He tastes it, smells it, and finds the kind of ecstasy only the best of memories can supply. He tells Fisk, and later, the resourceful supplier of the wine, Wrather, in subsequent dinners.
Wrather, at first, seems to be just a way to move the plot along. However, as the story develops, he not only becomes crucial, but is foundational at each stage of the tale.
The fine acting of Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, and Bryan Brown cannot be overstated. Carefully directed, and intelligently filmed, we see each character used with intensity, but always modestly. No one overacts in what might have been a maudlin film.
The packaging makes it look something like a Disney dog film. It is not. It carries a rich social wisdom, original storytelling, and a depth of insight into father-son dynamics.
I fully recommend, "Dean Spanley."