‘Uncorked’ movie review: A classic coming-of-age story served in a glass of heartfelt family drama
A full-bodied family story, with undertones of a young man’s ambitions, blended with a hint of romance and aromas of the Deep South, this Netflix original deserves to be on your weekend watch-list
When you first read about the plot of ‘Uncorked’, and learn that it’s about an aspiring sommelier, you think a backdrop of the wine country, fine blends, perhaps with a touch of classic jazz playing along. Yes, it might sound clichéd but that’s the image painted in our minds, over time. And then the movie opens with back and forth shots of barbecue, the daily grind of a restaurant, while Yo Gotti’s ‘Juice’ plays in the background. That changes everything that you think about a wine connoisseur.
For context, ‘Uncorked’ follows the struggles of the young Elijah (Mamoudou Athie), who dreams of becoming a master sommelier, but his father’s hopes and expectations for his son poses a challenge on his path. The storyline is pretty simple, quite tried and tested, to be honest, and yet, you want to continue watching Elijah’s journey all through the end. This is indeed a story of family values, traditions, and dreams, quite what you would expect from this kind of a movie. But, it is also a story of following your passion, without hurting the ones you love.
Whenever we see a story of a rebellious child, wanting to do something starkly different from the rest of the family, it usually ends up in something radical and violent. But not our Elijah here! He is one of the quietest of heroes who walks out and builds their lives. Elijah wants his loved ones to walk with him on his journey; quite uncommon among current youngsters today, and yet, he proves to be an exception.
Typically, more than most of the father-son dramas we have explored, it has either been the absence of the father, or them antagonizing each other, or the son goes astray. Elijah and his father’s constant, open communication, is where ‘Uncorked’ becomes different than other such stories. Courtney B. Vance undoubtedly shines as Louis, Elijah’s father, who also has a dream of his own. It’s ironic that his dream is to fulfill the unfinished dreams of his own father (Elijah’s grandfather) and carry on the family legacy. It’s heartfelt, but a tad upsetting when it comes to a point where the young boy is at crossroads between his ambitions and his heritage, while he has to balance this along with his love life. The relationships as we see are warm enough to make you miss your family, if you are away from home, and yet, it’s not mushy or overdramatized.
One of the highlighting elements of this loving family drama is its setting. It’s been a while since we had a chance to see a story set in Memphis. Of course, there’s no way to know where the story is based, until after the first few scenes. And then as you see footage of the sunset on the Mississippi River, signature shots of the “Soulsville” and the Crystal Palace rink, with Memphis’ classic hip hop beats, you feel all the vibes of the Deep South, transporting you to the “Home of Blues”.
Long story short, the fine undertones of Elijah’s coming-of-age struggles, weaved into a beautifully scripted family drama, makes ‘Uncorked’ the perfect glass of comfort you need, after a long week of work.
‘Uncorked’ is currently streaming on Netflix.