Look, I can't pretend I was ever going to watch this movie until I saw "Inception" the other week. And then...well, it doesn't take a genius to work out the connection between those two films - and the reason why I was suddenly digging through my girlfriend's DVD collection to watch this. But I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, ultimately it's a British wish-fulfilment; France, that house, the wine, the lifestyle. But you could also - possibly generously - read a kind of familiar Scott/Crowe belief in the virtues that, they believe, define a 'real' man - honesty foremost among them. The film is, therefore, the journey of the main character to understanding those values and enabling him to live in the world according to a code that is defined against the brittle, harsh values of Anglo-Saxon capitalism. Which is certainly an interesting argument to have been made on the cusp of a crumbling belief in the strength of the intellectual system, that has defined our place in the world for the last two hundred years. So, I certainly took more from the 2 hours or so I spent watching this movie than I ever thought would be possible.
Then again, Marion Cotillard is in it. And that's pretty much all you need to know.
You can't blame Ridley Scott for wanting a rest after directing 'Kingdom Of Heaven' but his take on friend Peter Mayle's bestseller 'A Year In Province' plays out like the wistful musings /fantasies of an upper class twit swigging flutes of Rothschild 1850 at the country club. In many ways, 'A Good Year' is Russell Crowe's 'Nick Of Time'; for just as Johnny Depp discovered he couldn't quite pull off the straight-laced, Hitchcockian wrong-man role, so too, should Crowe realise he's not the right actor for light bourgeois comedy & slapstick. Crowe, doing a passable English accent, plays an arrogant London stockbroker who inherits his late uncle's chateau/vineyard in France. Initially looking for a quick sell, he soon falls in love with it, and with local belle Marion Cotillard (who's put through her paces in an unintentionally hilarious bicycle crash sequence in the deleted scenes). 'A Good Year' paints the picture of a nice, almost idyllic, life, an enviable life for many I'm sure, the kind of life Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley would love to destabilise. But nice doesn't quite cut the mustard on screen, and frankly, I'd rather see Russell Crowe going mad with mathematics in 'A Beautiful Mind', hewing the limbs off his adversaries in 'Gladiator' or doing some method acting for films like 'The Insider'. Unintentional hilarity seems to be a frequent theme here, and I'd almost be willing to recommend this DVD if only to see a stunningly surreal extra featuring Russell Crowe and his band 'The Ordinary Fear Of God' (didn't they used to be called 'Ten Foot Of Grunts'?) doing an MTV unplugged style gig. Their videos are priceless, and even funnier than Seu Jorge's faux Bowie tribute on 'The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou' Criterion release. Crowe's crooning is pretty dire, just don't tell him that in person or he'll probably rip your arm off. It's the usual Scott criticism: Stylish but vacuous.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Everything matures... eventually. When high-flying English businessman Max Skinner (Crowe) inherits the vineyard in Provence where he grew up with his uncle Henry (Albert Finney), he arrives at his new property with the express intention of promptly selling it only to meets an American woman who claims that the land is actually hers. Actors: Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Tom Hollander Directors: Ridley Scott Format: PAL, Dolby, Digital Sound, Widescreen Language: English Subtitles: English Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.) Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1 Number of discs: 1 Classification: 12 Studio: Twentieth Century Fox DVD Release Date: 7 May 2007 Run Time: 112 minutes
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.