Sunday, April 19, 2009

Review of the movie Mondovino

It's been years since this movie has been out, and years since I have known about it, but I finally watched it. My friend Samantha is a fan of the movie, and so I already had heard good things. But I also read negative reviews of the movie, which suggested it was like a rough draft more than a good documentary, and that the camera work was shoddy. So, it was with treppidation that I went into viewing it.

The upshot is that I loved it! It was rough and tumble and quirky and decidedly un-smooth, but I think the director wanted it that way. He wanted it to be not all perfect and tight, like something that Steven Spielberg would make. This was not meant to be flawless. It was full of quirkiness, like him asking Hubert de Montille "What is this chair of mystery?" and Hubert answering, "This is not a chair of mystery, it's just a chair sitting out here, can you help me move it back into the living room where it belong? Thanks. Oh damn I forgot my keys, we have to go back down and get them." And him interviewing this guy who started Ornellaia and his housekeeper keeps walking into the shoot by accident, she claims, and director Jonathan Nossiter just keeping that part in instead of editing it out.

The film is great because he is just letting wine people talk, and letting their true personalities come out, be they vibrant, passionate so-called peasants that work the land in Sardinia or Languedoc, or be they vibrant, totalitarian, egotistical flying makers like Michel Rolland. The film lets you make your own decision, while clearly showing what the director thinks, not by narrating to you like you are a moron that can't tell what he thinks, but by showing you what the regular folk thinks, and then what the aristocracy thinks, what big business thinks, and how arrogant critics think (ie. James Suckling of the Wine Spectator). He's just getting what comes out of the mouth of babes - you be the judge.

I like how by the end of the movie, you really get how he ends up focusing on the winery dogs, because maybe he too is getting tired of hearing what everyone thinks of everything. This really resonates with me because after I visit like 30 estate, I start also focusing heavily on the winery dogs and stop listening as much to winemakers and estate owners. It gets to be more and more about the dogs.
But the absolute best part is the interaction between Hubert de Montille and his daughter Alix de Montille. Hubert has given his winery, his life's work, his estate and its 8 hectares to his son, Etienne de Montille. His daughter Alix works for a large company that makes wine in Burgundy. He goes to visit her and to taste wine. Alix asks him, "What would you like to taste?" He answers, "Something good. If there is anything here that is good." She gives him a pipette/thief's worth of wine. He comments, "Look, here they have so much money they buy a thief." Implying that at his small estate, they don't have such luxuries.
Alix says, "My wine style is similar to my dad's; our palates are similar. We like wines that have an edge to them, not wimpy wines. Just like we like people who have an edge. We don't like wimpy people. That makes it a bit difficult to like. For example, my father is acerbic. Hard to like." Hubert says, "Wines take time. 15 years in the bottle, the wines are excellent. But you can't rush them." Alix says, "Just like you dad, it takes time to like you." Hubert: "Yes, but after some time, you drink me."


Noel DLP said...

Good review Nancy. I like the last line. I might look for it and watch it myself. Pretty long movie huh? 2 Hours and 15 minutes. Is it subtitled?

Samantha Dugan said...

I loved it too! The stuff with the De Montille's was obviously the part I enjoyed the most...something so honest about them. Glad you enjoyed it!

Nancy Deprez said...

Hi Noel and Samantha!

Noel, some parts are definitely subtitled in the movie. Other parts, they are speaking English. It flows well though.

Michael Hughes said...

One of my favorite parts is when they are at Robert Parker's house & his dog keeps farting. Maybe that's why he prefers the overblown, over-extracted, whorey kinds of wines? The wine would have to be to cut through the stench.

I also loved when Alix quit on camera! So great.