Comedy based on Peter Mayle's best-selling novel about a London-based investment banker who relocates to Provence in hopes of selling a small vineyard he has inherited from his recently-deceased uncle. As a child, Max Skinner (Freddie Highmore) was taught to appreciate the finer things in life while wandering the vineyard estate of his uncle Henry (Albert Finney). 25 years later Max (Russell Crowe) is now a successful businessman and when he learns that Henry has recently passed away and he has been named the sole beneficiary of his late uncle's estate, Max hastily arranges a flight to France in order to assess the value of the old property and get it prepped for sale. However, Max arrives in Provence to discover the vineyard in a crumbling state of disrepair, and his troubles are further compounded by the stubbornness of a gruff estate winemaker M. Duflot (Didier Bourdon) and the unexpected arrival of a determined Californian woman named Christie (Abbie Cornish) who presents herself as a long-lost cousin while making a dubious claim to Henry's estate.
A feel-good movie that highlights the beauty of France as much as it does its stars, A Good Year
provides a languid, gorgeous viewing experience. Director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe--who first worked together on the Academy Award-winning Gladiator
--are reunited in this romantic film, which is based on Peter Mayle's book A Year in Provence.
Crowe plays Max, a workaholic London bonds trader who doesn't know the meaning of vacation. When his uncle dies, leaving him a picturesque estate in the south of France, Max views it as an opportunity to cash in the vinery and pocket the profits. The film is reminiscent of Diane Lane's Under the Tuscan Sun in the way the scenery plays as much of a role in the film as its characters. The lush village and streaming sunlight portray Provence as an idyllic, magical place. Even Max falls under its spell. While not a particularly likeable character, especially in the early part of the film, Max also isn't a bad guy. When he gets the chance to live life at a less manic pace than which he is used to, he finds that a good year isn't dependant on a financial windfall. Though Scott tries to drum up some suspense in the film (Is the beautiful visitor really Max's illegitimate cousin? Will Max fall in love with the feisty local woman he trades quips with?) nothing that happens comes as much of a surprise. Still, while the film doesn't fully utilise Crowe's range of skills, the actor is charming in his role and A Good Year
provides fine viewing. --Jae-Ha Kim