A Good Year

There’s something less than thrilling at the prospect of yet another movie about a pompous businessman caught up in the ego of earning a quick buck who suddenly has a change of heart and rediscovers himself. With Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man) as the self-professed bastard Max Skinner and directed by the usually reliable Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down), one can already see where this is heading. The plot is predictable and the overall film standard Hollywood fare, complete with the full range of caricatures. Yet A Good Year is still quite an enjoyable, if easily forgettable, flick.
Max is an English stock trader who enjoys the thrill of defying the rules to make killer profits. When he receives news of his uncle Henry’s (Albert Finney, Erin Brockovich) death, Max returns to Henry’s vineyard estate in a small French town with the intention of selling the property as soon as possible. There, he discovers that he has far more attachment to the house and the grounds than he realized. Throw in a love interest (the gorgeous Marion Cotillard, Big Fish), a very entrenched winemaker (Didier Bourdon, Vive La Vie) and an illegitimate cousin (Abbie Cornish, Candy), who shows up unannounced, and Max begins to find it hard to treat the property with unemotional abandon.
Despite a fistful of clichés, the likeable cast and a lighthearted and humorous script make A Good Year an easy and entertaining watch. Crowe may not be showing the full range of flare we’re used to seeing with his bigger and bolder films like Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, but he is still charismatic and believable which is enough to sustain the movie.
There’s nothing new or groundbreaking about A Good Year, but it holds its own as a reasonable movie about finding life, love and happiness all over again. Good for a Sunday afternoon but not much more.