Friday, March 27, 2009

Film review: Bottle Shock

Director: Randall Miller
Cast: Chris Pine, Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman
Country: USA

"You think I'm an ass. And I'm not really. It's just that I'm British and you're not." Steven Spurrier

If Bottle Shock was a variety of wine it would probably be Merlot. Now I don’t know much about wine per se, but I do know the cantankerous oenophile of Sideways wouldn’t be caught dead drinking it, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. The same might be said of Bottle Shock, an occasionally charming film that’s probably best consumed when all the good stuff’s already drunk.

In 1976, the year of the US bicentennial, a winery from California beat the Gaul’s at their own game in a blind tasting competition conducted by French judges. This is the basis for co-writer and director Randall Miller’s tale partly about a snooty Brit (Alan Rickman) who leaves his ailing wine merchants in Paris to taste the best Napa Valley has to offer, meeting along the way a struggling vintner (Bill Pullman) of Chateau Montelena and his son (Chris Pine). As this is one of those ensembles of colourful character-type narratives we meet all sorts of eccentrics and learn, you know, Yanks have culture too.

There’s a love story too between Pine (who plays a buffoon here), his poor ethnic buddy who works at Montelena (Freddie Rodriguez) and the vineyard intern (Rachael Taylor). No prizes for guessing who she ends up with, though that’s not the film’s worst faux pas.

Not one for the connoisseur’s, Bottle Shock is a little bit all over the place and ultimately unsatisfying. Taste test verdict: this one’s a bit corked.

Bottle Shock is released in Australia 27 March
This review also appears in 3D World