I don't think it's an overstatement to say that it's surprising to hear that the men behind Gladiator would choose to collaborate on a romantic comedy. But unfortunately, it is an overstatement to say director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe succeeded in either the romantic or the comedy. The romance is a rushed afterthought that's really only in a fourth of the movie. And the comedy is forced and groan-worthy. In fact, there's little passion or joy at all in A Good Year.
Based on the novel by Peter Mayle, A Good Year tells the story of Max Skinner (Crowe), a ruthless, hedonistic and unlikable London stock trader who won't let anything get in the way of making money—including morality. When he's forced to return to the Provence vineyards that belong to his Uncle Max (Albert Finney), he begins to recall the joys of his summers spent in France as a boy. Living in this place of beauty and a more simple life, Max's life is changed by the estate's caretaker (Didier Bourdon), a young woman who claims to be a relative (Abbie Cornish), and a local restaurant owner (Marion Cotillard).
A Good Year has been widely compared to both Under a Tuscan Sun and Sideways because of the focus on life-changing reflection and winemaking. But one of the biggest problems for the film is that it's comparable to so many films. It's one thing to use the common theme of an unfulfilled professional who finds a reawakening, but it's another to not do anything original with it. There isn't much in A Good Year that hasn't been done—and done better.
At its core, A Good Year is a story about how love—of a woman, of family, and of life itself—can change a man. But it's a film about change without much change. It's very hard to see ...1
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A Good Year
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