Let’s talk wine: whether you’re gifting it, drinking it, sniffing it, or regretting it the next morning, most of us have had a chance encounter with a drop of plonk. What makes the difference between the wine we can buy with the spare change in our pocket however, and the wine we’d need to apply for a mortgage to buy? Australian writer-directors David Roach and Warwick Ross, with Russell Crowe narrating, quench our curiosity for the origins of the Nectar of the Gods with their cinematic documentary Red Obsession.
The film begins with a fascinating exploration of the picturesque French port city of Bordeaux, the birthplace of fine (astonishingly expensive) wine. Crowe talks us through the delicate, infinitely complex economy of wine (production and trading), and how it is influenced by the world’s leading powers. There is something soul-wrenching yet fascinating about watching aristocrats and trade moguls effortlessly fork over the average Australian’s annual salary for a single bottle of wine. Then comes the plot twist in this alcoholic tale: the sleeping dragon awakens.
The mega economic superpower of China enters the fray, with a seemingly insatiable lust for the fine wines of Bordeaux, and so follows a captivating clash between western and eastern values and commodities.
One wonders if the documentary would have achieved greater success as a serialised television production. The 80 minute run time doesn’t sound like a long time, but you certainly feel it when more than half of that time is about the complexities of the Chinese economy. Interesting, nonetheless, but there were more than one restless, squirming audience member at the Palace Nova during the final stretch.
An intriguing, fascinating exploration of this precious liquid coveted by many, literally worth it’s weight in gold.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
Rating out of 10: 6