SOMM – The Review
The opening documentary film at the 2012 Napa Vally Film Festival, welcome to the most difficult test you’ve NEVER heard of…
SOMM takes the viewer on a humorous, emotional and illuminating look into a mysterious world – the Court of Master Sommeliers and the massively intimidating Master Sommelier Exam. The Court of Master Sommeliers is one of the world’s most prestigious, secretive, and exclusive organizations. Since its inception almost 40 years ago, less than 200 candidates have reached the exalted Master level. The exam covers literally every nuance of the world of wine, spirits and cigars.
Those who have passed have put at risk their personal lives, their well- being, and often their sanity to pull it off. Shrouded in secrecy, access to the Court Of Master Sommeliers has always been strictly regulated and cameras have never been allowed anywhere near the exam, until now.
How much do you think you know about wine? SOMM will make you think again. SOMM takes you on the ultimate insider’s tour into a world of obsession, hope, and friendship in red, blanc and sometimes rose.
SOMM was filmed over three years in six countries around the world, the bulk of which took place in the United States, Germany, France, and Italy. When focused on the main characters, the movie takes place in incredibly intimate settings. The crew filmed in apartments, houses, hotels and cars, often between the hours of midnight and four a.m. when the bulk of their preparations for the Exam took place.
The crew also filmed helicopter shots over the Rhine River in Germany, dolly shots in Tuscany Italy, and time-lapse photography in Burgundy, France. There are also interviews with some of the greatest wine makers in the world.
When recommending movies to friends, documentaries are usually a hard sell, but I would do my best convincing job on this one.
SOMM takes you into the super exclusive and slightly odd world of sommeliers, specifically the ridiculously hard test they have to pass in order to hold the title of “Master Sommelier.” Now I don’t really have much knowledge or interest in wine, but I was drawn in by the utter commitment these people exhibit in order to rise to the top of the field they love.
Four friends, Brian McClintic, DLynn Proctor, Dustin Wilson and Ian Cauble take us along as they study and obsess non-stop for the big test. As we learn in the film, there have only been 170 Master Sommeliers in the past 45 years, so you get an idea just how nearly impossible it is to pass this test.
The test is only given once a year, so not passing means a whole year before they can try again. You’d think with those odds, the competition would be cutthroat, but it’s just the opposite. We see our four students study together, stress out together, help each other and ultimately root for each other in what ends up in triumph for some and heartbreak for others.
4 out of 5 stars
SOMM will be in theaters and available on iTunes June 21st.
Click HERE to see a schedule of where SOMM is playing near you.
For more on this fascinating documentary visit:
Photos Credit: Forgotten Man Films / Samuel Goldwyn Films