Uncorked Movie Review: Predictable and Conventional with a Little of Wit

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Rating: **(2 stars)

In this season of a home-viewing boom, another American  feature film, this one about a son who’d rather be  a sommelier than a  restaurateur, looks like a Black American version of the Parsi film Maska that Netflix released just two days earlier.

Sons don’t want  to go into their father’s business, no matter how passionate the patriarch is about his calling. It’s a natural process of genealogical recoil. And we have seen any number of films  on the theme. Uncorked uncorks no fresh fumes, no virgin aromas . It is conventional tale told with routine flourishes of wit and drama.

For a film about food and wine there is a surprising lack of culinary seductiveness  and a lot of whining  about wine which we are meant to get impressed by.  All the whining (about wine) does is to make us pine for Om Puri and  his screen son Manish Dayal  in  The 100 Foot Journey, that other far superior drama on paternity rights and culinary traditions.

The problem with Uncorked is, it conveys  no sense of  history only a feeling of hazy pride  in the history of lineage and tradition. The father Louis (Courtney B. Vance) is  into barbecues and the son Elijah(Mamoudou Athie) is into  wine-tasting. Their clash lacks any serious perspective because the conflict seems less cultural and more a  conformist’s take on non-conformism. Every move in the plot has a chess-like precision.

For all the wine that flows through the film, the narrative is as as dry as a winecellar after a raid.

The family business  which seems so sacrosanct to the plot is dismissed  in a few scenes where we hear the father  grimly proclaiming his pride about his heritage. Neither Courtney Vance or Mamoudou Athie seem to suggest any kind of  deep affinity with their  past, shared or  individual.Their  performances are  serviceable, clinical and they don’t  move us even after a family tragedy overtakes their lives.

It is Niecy Nash as  the  mother who brings a certain vivacity  into the  otherwise-dry storytelling. In her hackneyed  role of the mother trying to balance the father and son’s egos, Ms Nash is  delightfully animated and exasperated.There are lots of not-unimportant characters  playing young wine-tasters studying their niche vocation in  Paris. But they don’t come to life in any vital or appealing way.

The films wears a defeated  look, as though it knew it had  lost the battle even before the Coronova outbreak.So  is  it barbecue or wine for Elijah at the end? Does anyone  care?

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