Bottle Shock (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/03/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Watchable drama with some decent performances but the end result is disappointing, thanks to a messy script and some poor directorial choices.

What's it all about?
Based on a true story, Bottle Shock stars Bill Pullman and Chris Pine as Jim and Bo Barrett, a pair of father and son winemakers who risk everything to create Jim's dream of the perfect Chardonnay in 1970s California. The two men clash constantly (literally, since Jim has a tendency to settle arguments in the boxing ring) and their opinions are sharply divided when snobbish wine seller Steven Spurrier proposes a blind taste test in France between French and Californian wines.

Meanwhile, directionless slacker Bo has his own problems when beautiful intern Sam (Rachael Taylor) rejects his advances and chooses his best friend, budding independent vintner Gustavo (Freddy Rodriguez), instead. Forced to see himself through Sam's eyes, Bo decides to take charge for once and determines that his father's wine should be entered in Spurrier's competition, even if it's against Jim's wishes.

The Good
Rachael Taylor is terrific as the feisty Sam, delivering a genuinely sexy, confident performance that makes you wish her character was the centre of the film. Similarly, Rickman can play British snobs in his sleep and delivers his usual excellent work, while there's strong support from both Pullman and Rodriguez. In addition, Michael J. Ozier's lush cinematography perfectly captures the atmosphere of heady summers in the baking California sunshine.

The Bad
The film's main problem is that the messy, unfocussed script takes forever to get going and its emotional pay-offs are badly handled. The initial rejection scene, with Sam choosing Gustavo, is actually the most interesting moment in the film, but the screenwriters lack the courage to see that plot through and the love triangle element fails to convince as a result, not least because there's much more chemistry between Taylor and Rodriguez than between Taylor and Pine.

Worth seeing?
Bottle Shock is never less than watchable, but it fails to engage on an emotional level and is ultimately undone by an over-reliance on the usual cliches.

Film Trailer

Bottle Shock (15)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 22:28

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