How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
4 November 2011
This article is a review of HOW TO RE-ESTABLISH A VODKA EMPIRE.
"How did I end up launching my very own vodka brand?"
At a brisk 75 minutes this documentary doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s like we’re watching a home movie, as narrator and director Daniel Edelstyn looks into his ancestry and makes a film about it, with his wife Hilary Powell. It could’ve been seriously self-indulgent, and it does feel a little occasionally, but there are two things that prevent that happening:
- The interesting subject matter of re-establishing the family vodka brand; and
- The reconstructions using special effects and miniatures.
The catalyst is his grandmother Maroussia’s writings about her life, which Edelstyn reportedly discovers in the attic. Maroussia appears to be intelligent and articulate, and her words form the backbone of the movie. Born in 1898, the family business in the Ukraine was taken over by the state during the October revolution. Trips to the former Soviet satellite add an exoticism to proceedings. However, the putting together of the alcohol business feels like an episode of THE APPRENTICE – a show that reeks of superficiality, contrivance and cursory education. Even Hilary’s pregnancy doesn’t feel genuine, as if they discussed it and thought it would make the story more exciting. It doesn’t help that Edelstyn lacks charisma and is a bit irritating. Though by the end credits the filmmakers have won me over to their project, and I wish them well with their vodka empire.