Bottle Shock opens to mixed reviews

  • Monday 21 January 2008

Bottle Shock, the first of the long-awaited movies about the Paris Tasting, has premiered at Sundance to mixed reviews.

Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier in Bottle Shock

While one festival blogger answers his own question, ‘Is there room for another movie about wine?’ with an unequivocal ‘Nope’, Variety is kinder.

This ‘peppy and quite deliberate crowd pleaser‘ will ‘please palates across the fest world,’ the showbiz organ said.

The narrative may be ‘sprawling’, with some ‘painfully corny sections’, but it has ‘a charming aftertaste’.

The story centres on the Barretts of Montelena and their part in the Paris Tasting. Jim Barret is played by Bill Pullman. Steven Spurrier is played by Alan Rickman (above) as ‘a priggish yet open-minded British caviste’.

The blogger quoted above says Rickman plays Spurrier ‘as if he’s Peter Sellers playing Alan Rickman playing the character.’ It’s a ‘weird and wildly entertaining performance’, and ‘just about the only thing worth seeing in it.’

A good deal of comedy is to be had with Rickman's Britishness, and Americans' inability to tell the difference between British and French, as in 'can we get a barrel sample for this French wine snob.'

There’s a love interest involving Bo Barrett, a cute intern (Rachael Taylor) and ‘an upstart Latino winemaker’ (Freddy Rodriguez - Federico in Six Feet Under).

According to Variety, that particular plot strand works. ‘Wine lovers won't just sip but guzzle a lot of this down, and the same effect that sun-dappled days and sex in California had on Sideways operates here.'

Director Randall Miller told Bloomberg.com that the film was ‘as close to the truth as possible.’

Variety begs to differ, calling it ‘a true story that only Hollywood could have made up.’

Another film, Judgement of Paris, has been held up by the writers’ strike but decanter.com understands that writer Robert Kamen has finished the first draft of the script and has handed it to the producers.

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