Blind Ambition 2022 Movie Review
February 4, 2023

Blind Ambition 2022 Movie Review

Blind Ambition
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Blind Ambition 2022 Movie Review

Four young men who escaped Zimbabwe to find work in South Africa go to France to compete in the World Wine Tasting Championships. If you’re thinking Jamaican bob-sled team, you’d be right. This is a film based on the idea of people doing something they shouldn’t be able to do, but now we’re in murky waters.

The Jamaican bob-sledders lived in a country without snow. These four men live in a country awash with great wine. If they were white men, no one would make the documentary, so what’s the proposition here? Black men can’t taste, like white men can’t jump? Clearly not, but defining your subject by skin colour is a risky business.

To be fair, skin colour is not the real story engine: it’s poverty. Blind Ambition is about four young men who came to South Africa in dire need and at great risk, when “foreigners” were regularly being killed in township riots. Each did what he had to do to survive.

Joseph Dhafana was tilling a restaurant garden when the owner offered him a glass of wine. He did not like the taste. Marlvin Gwese’s strict religious upbringing forbade alcohol. He had not tasted wine until four years ago.

That each became a sommelier at a leading restaurant is remarkable enough. To think they could compete at the highest level, against the best from 25 countries, would seem like a pipe dream – or to put it another way, a hero’s journey. Just what every filmmaker looks for.

The Australian directors, Warwick Ross and Robert Coe, brought us the excellent Red Obsession nine years ago, charting the way the world of wine is changing. Blind Ambition is slightly less successful, although it’s hard to work out why. It has a fabulous story, with structure laid on, and the four young men are inspiring.

What goes awry? It feels like the pressure of the elements has not been resolved. We don’t spend enough time with each man to get to know him. That means we’re not inside the story when they take off for Burgundy. When they get there, we encounter a new element – a Frenchman called Denis who goes close to wrecking their dreams. The competition itself is a blur: we don’t see how hard they work and that means the film never comes together as an organic and enveloping ride, in which we are inside the moment.

Blind Ambition may have been better as a series, rather than a one-off. It’s too short to tell its own story, as good as that story is.

Blind Ambition 2022 Movie Review