Red Obsession Movie Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Red Obsession
Reviewed by Damien Straker on August 10th, 2013
Roadshow
presents a film directed by David Roach and Warwick Ross
Screenplay by David Roach and Warwick Ross
Running Time: 79 minutes
Rating: PG
Released: August 15th, 2013


8/10

 


The title "Red Obsession" has two meanings. It is firstly a reference to the documentary's subject of wine and the way that it is purchased, stored and used as a highly profitable investment. The alternate meaning is the impact that China is having on the wine industry. According to the documentary, China has the fastest imports of wine in the world now. The film's directors David Roach and Warwick Ross are both Australian. Ross was born in Hong Kong in the 1950s but was educated in Melbourne, Australia. He told the website Indiewire about his intentions for the film: "I'd like audiences to reflect on how important tolerance and understanding is when dealing with cultures unlike our own." He says he is a vigneron himself, someone who has a vineyard for winemaking, but he is also attempting to be insightful and to humanise Asian culture. This is admirable in a time where places like Asia are caricatured and vilified by geocentric cinema.


Given the documentary's human interests, I found the material to be never short of riveting.  The early scenes in the Chateau Margaux are the only stumbling points because some of the language borders on pretentious. It comes with the territory. One man says that wine is like an instrument and that he doesn't smell it, he hears it. Yet through Russell Crowe's booming baritone voice, fitting with the historical context, the information is interesting and accessibly told. One of the primary issues addressed in the first portion of the documentary is the overinflated prices of the wine. It is argued that over the past ten years the Bordeaux wine prices have increased by one thousand per cent so that it is now too valuable to drink. Wine is still considered a major investment as it is sold after four or five years after the initial purchase and has been outperforming other markets like stock and gold since 1982. There are more confronting insights though, including the way wine prices are influenced by wine critics: The higher the score, the higher the price. Anger seeps into the film because some believe that they are merely pawns helping the Chateau earn as much money as possible.


The Chinese segment of the film deepens the findings and scope of the documentary, unearthing insights into the globalisation of the wine industry and the changing psychology of Chinese society throughout recent history. The film smartly contextualises these changes, opting to reference the suffering felt at the hands of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution. Western, traditional and historical factors and influences were banned from society so that China became a lost generation that had to rebuild itself and rediscover its own individuality. By the 1970s when these sanctions were removed China had to rediscover its entrepreneurial standpoint in relation to the rest of the world. Importing wine in China today is also seen as having status, being knowledgeable about Western culture and obtaining a prestige and artfulness as significant as purchasing an expensive vase or painting.


Even though there are some moments of madness here, like a woman paying over a million dollars for a single bottle of wine, I liked the way the film's interviewers personalise the information, explaining  how Chinese people like to try new things and to engage with outside influences. It is an imperative staple of their culture because they believe they are making a better life for their next generation of people. As someone who doesn't know anything about wine, besides the name Merlot, I was grateful the film transcended the passion for wine and became more globally informative and culturally interested. The film is about placing a more human face on an often feared economic superpower. By increasing the scope of the information, widening and personalising the subject matter, more people will be able to learn something new about the wine market or Chinese culture and not be deterred by any pretentious or elitist barriers that might be associated with this industry.






 
 



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