Blind Ambition: Fascinating premise slightly tainted by age and one man’s antics

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Blind Ambition (M, 96mins) Directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross *** Reviewed by James Croot

“It’s like Egypt putting together a ski team for the Winter Olympics.”

As one of their interviewees noted, it’s easy to see what drew documentary filmmakers to this story.

Four Zimbabweans had rebuilt their lives in South Africa, each individually discovering a penchant and a talent for wine tasting. All working as sommeliers, the foursome decided to try their luck in the South African team events to compete in the 2017 World Blind Tasting Championships in Burgundy.

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Impressed, and looking for a solution to his selection problem for the annual event organized by the French magazine the Review of the wines of FranceSouth African coach Jean Vincent encourages Pardon, Joseph, Tinashe and Marlvin to form their own Zimbabwean team.

When it is learned that they need £6,500 to attend, the global wine community unites, raising over £8,000 in just six weeks. Now, as they prepare to pit their wine-identifying skills against the best in the world, all they have to do is choose their own coach, taste as widely as possible, and overcome their own doubts.

The Blind Ambition documentary is caught structurally and thematically somewhere between Cool Runnings and Spellbound.

Provided

The Blind Ambition documentary is caught structurally and thematically somewhere between Cool Runnings and Spellbound.

Best known for writing the screenplay for Yahoo’s cult hit Serious in 1993 Reckless Kelly and production of a documentary on wine in 2013 red obsessionWarwick Ross teams up with Robert Cole for this uplifting, entertaining yet slightly frustrating tale.

Its exit almost five years after the events described is somewhat dismal (last year’s competition was apparently mired in controversy, particularly around the USA team) and it seems uncertain to delve into the unrest in Zimbabwe which led the men to leave for South Africa. .

This works best during the wall-stealing moments as the team practices their craft and debates decisions, with the filmmakers thankfully resisting the temptation to include hearty slow-motion refreshes. The intrigue and tension increase especially after our foursome make the disastrous decision to hire eccentric Frenchman Denis Garret as their “coach” (although I wonder how much of his antics were due to the presence of the camera) .

Despite its entertainment value, the antics of eccentric French

Provided

Despite its entertainment value, the antics of eccentric French “coach” Denis Garret threaten to derail our quartet – and the inspiring story of Blind Ambition.

But while each of the team’s stories is compelling and how they use their new found fame inspiring, empowering and clever, it’s not great publicity for their adopted homeland, culminating in the climax being undermined by news difficulties of the Cape which are ignored. as “just a part of life in South Africa”.

Taken structurally and thematically somewhere between Cool races and Bewitched, blind ambition almost feels a little too hastily put together, tonally all over the map as it tries to adjust to a man threatening to spoil his subjects’ big moment.

In English and Shona and French with English subtitles, blind ambition is now showing in select theaters nationwide.

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