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A Good Year
Looks cuter than a little kitten
A Good Year
Russell Crowe Stars in Ridley Scott's "A Good Year".
OPENING WEEKEND: $14,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $53,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

May 5th, 2006: Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is a 30-something financial banker in London, suddenly left without a sense of purpose after being fired. When his uncle Henry (Albert Finney) dies, Max inherits an estate in gorgeous Provençal France. He fondly remembers the pleasant childhood moments spent at the vineyard and the prospects of returning there seem like a nice alternative to his present situation. With a generous loan from his former brother-in-law Charlie (Tom Hollander), Max, fed up with the cold, rainy England weather, sets out to Southern France. Upon his arrival, he is surprised to find the estate, Le Griffon, in a tragic condition. Max enlists the help of some of the eccentric locals and soon finds himself sitting back and enjoying the simple pleasures that life has to offer. He even begins to attract the attentions of two striking ladies, the local notary Nathalie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) and the sensuous café owner Fanny (Marion Cotillard). His carefree life complicates instantly with the arrival of uncle Henry’s long-lost daughter, Christie Roberts (Abbie Cornish), who claims to have the rights to the estate.

What to Expect: British author Peter Mayle has a special dedication to Ridley Scott in the beginning of his novel, A Good Year. In fact, he wrote the book specifically for the director to turn into a movie. Reportedly, Scott approached Mayle, offering him a chance to write an original screenplay, but since he felt uncomfortable with the format, the author declined and chose to write a novel for Scott instead.

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Mayle has gained notoriety through several acclaimed books that have vividly illustrated his admiration of Provençal France. With a breezy style and a sharp poetic wit, the infamous Francophile has thrived on the giddiness of his many in-depth descriptions of the ecstasy found in such uncomplicated joys as sipping a glass of fine wine, searching for the perfect melon, or going mushroom hunting. Through it all, his books have featured real locations and dozens of colorful characters, none of who have been able to escape unscathed from the author’s pointed observations. A Good Year is no exception as Southern France once again serves as the setting for Mayle’s tale. However, as one of his most recent books, it has received some criticism for failing to attain the same level of humor and intelligence found in his earlier works. Many have also argued that with a relatively plain and predictable story at the center, Mayle had created a relatively dull experience.

For director Ridley Scott, the more talented of the two Scott brothers (Tony Scott being the other), the film appears to be a departure from his frequently epic and sometimes bleak masterpieces. With remarkable cinematic visions like Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down to his credit, Scott seems like the last person who would want to adapt a Peter Mayle novel. Even his more playful films, such as Thelma & Louise or Matchstick Men touch upon dark themes and are drenched in murky lighting and saturated color schemes. His last movie, the highly engaging Kingdom of Heaven, once again illustrated the ease with which Scott can execute action on a grand scale. With that in mind, it would seem like the transition from Kingdom of Heaven to A Good Year might be difficult for the director, but it will probably not be so. Scott is not only a fan of Mayle’s writing, but also lives and understands the lifestyle that Mayle describes so effectively. The director actually owns some property in Provençal France, sharing this glaring trait with the hero of the novel. And I’m confident that Scott will find the perfect visual style for the movie after seeing one of his earliest films, The Duelists. The story of two dueling soldiers whose lives continuously cross paths was set against the backdrop of a luscious 19th century France.

Since his range appears to have no limits, the impeccable Russell Crowe should have no problem easing into the more genial role of Max. A Good Year represents a reunion between Scott and Crowe, who collaborated on the Oscar winning Gladiator, and may only be a warm up to American Gangster, a project the two are still deliberating together with Denzel Washington. Ever since Crowe won his best actor statuette in 2001, he’s been particularly choosy with his roles. This will mark only his fourth film in a little over five years and it feels a bit like a calculated attempt at softening Crowe’s bad-boy image. For instance, some have argued that his phone-throwing incident caused his last movie, Cinderalla Man, to under-perform at the box-office. Crowe is clearly the film’s primary source of star power and a lot of the responsibility falls on his shoulders. Although I have no doubt that he will deliver an appropriately understated performance, it will be interesting to note how the media will portray him as the film’s release date approaches.

In Conclusion: A Good Year strikes me as the type of film that will be so overwhelmingly pleasant that it will border on syrupy sweet. I’m sure that any eccentric characters in the movie will seem almost dull by Hollywood’s standards of eccentricity. Similarly, any surprising developments will probably be resolved or explained without forcing the audience to squirm for too long in anticipation. In what could be the perfect date movie, A Good Year will probably be as lighthearted as dramas can possibly be and much like the book, the film might suffer from criticism of its predictable nature. However, it appears poised to become the feel-good film of the Holiday season. I wouldn’t expect to find any profound enlightenment in the story, just a positively reaffirming look at life’s precious little moments. It does have a nice heartwarming ring to it.

Similar Titles: Under the Tuscan Sun, The Shipping News, Chocolat
November 10th, 2006 (wide)
February 27th, 2007 (DVD)

20th Century Fox

Ridley Scott

Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard, Albert Finney, Tom Hollander, Didier Bourdon, Abbie Cornish, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Freddie Highmore

Total: 109 vote(s).


Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual content.

118 min





A Good Year at AskMen.com

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