25 July 2024

Film Review – Blind Ambition (2021)

Blind Ambition has been billed as the Cool Runnings of the wine world. It could be seen as a quick tagline or lazy comparison due to the central plot of a team entering a competition they are not expected to enter due to their country of origin. However in this case it is rather apt and in no way condescending. While structurally it is very similar to that classic underdog story, this documentary also has its warmth and heart.

The film charts the progress of Team Zimbabwe as they get ready to enter the World Blind Tasting Championships in France. Many sommeliers train their whole lives to compete, and hopefully win, the “World Cup of Wine”. Some of the members of the unlikely team had only tasted their first glass of wine a couple of years ago.

Filmmakers Robert Coe & Warwick Ross know that the key to a successful underdog story is not the tournament itself or even the final match. It is establishing a bond and a connection between the underdogs and the audiences. The film will fall at the final hurdle if the audience is not completely invested in them and with them every step of the way.

The first two acts of the film introduces the team and charts their journey to this point. All four members left Zimbabwe in search of a better life in South Africa. One by one, through fate or fortune, or hearing it through the grapevine perhaps, their paths lead to wine. Developing a taste for the grape, they worked their way up from nothing to become Sommeliers in some of South Africa’s restaurants. They are passionate and enthusiastic about wine. From

It is not afraid to shy away from the hardships and obstacles the team have faced to get where they are. Effectively setting out what is at stake for them as they head to France.

As the competition begins, the twists and turns begin to pour faster than glasses of Lambrini on a Hen Night.

Drama is added in the final act when the team hire a coach. As newcomers to the competition, they feel their best chance for success is to have the guidance of someone who has the relevant experience. Their choice however is an eccentric Frenchman who is a bit of a maverick and his actions threaten to derail everything they have worked for.

Ultimately however, in the end it is not about whether the team win or lose. After all, you will find no spoilers here. By simply attending and competing, they have overcome unbelievable odds and are already winners

So raise a glass to Team Zimbabwe. If Blind Ambition were a wine, it might initially taste like any other but with the right palate, one discovers a story that is full bodied with notes of hope, luck and leaves you with a warm feeling inside.

★★★


Documentary | Australia, 2021 | N/C 15 | 2022 Glasgow Film Festival | Dir. Robert Coe, Warwick Ross


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