Bottle Shock

Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Rachael Taylor, Eliza Dushku, Freddy Rodriguez

Directed by Randall Miller
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3
Community: star rating
5 3 0
August 6, 2008

Be on the lookout for Bottle Shock, a hugely entertaining movie that scored at Sundance and the film festival circuit. It's a winner. And not just for oenophiles. Director Randall Miller, who co-wrote the script with his wife Jody Savin, keeps the plot brimming with spirit and wit. The focal point is historic 1976 blind wine tasting in Paris in which wines from California's Napa Valley scored a shocking victory over France's noble varietals. The resemblance to the indie smash Sideways is purely in the grapes. Miller is spinning delightfully on the true story that put Napa on the wine map. The architect of that victory is Steven Spurrier (Alan Rickman), a British wine snob based in Paris who travels to Napa to test the underdog vineyards. Rickman is deliciously good as this fish out of water. "You think I'm an asshole," he tells the natives. "I'm just British and, well, you're not." Rickman is droll, dazzling perfection. And there are fine turns by Bill Pullman as Jim Barrett, who blew off his law firm to cultivate a legendary chardonnay at his Chateau Montelena, and Chris Pine (the young Capt. Kirk in the new Star Trek movie) as the son who slowly comes to appreciate his dad's guest. "Wine is sunlight held together by water," said Galileo, and Miller takes that feeling palpable. His movie, gorgeously shot by cinematographer Michael J. Ozier, catches the dappled beauty of Napa. But Miller triumphs by finding the soul of the rebels who tend its grapes. Bottle Shock is something special: there's magic in it.

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