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A Good Year (2006)

Originally Written
Saturday, November 11, 2006

Weary of the many years of cookie-cutter romantic comedies which have all transformed into senseless, tasteless teen films, it's nice to finally get a breath of fresh air with this new film from Ridley Scott. A Good Year is a perfect occasion for the constipated Hollywood critics to have yet another go at trying to tear Russell Crowe down, and it's no surprise to me the majority found this film rather bland. Is it the film or the fact that Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott seem to be getting more ridicule than praise now a days? Critics have never been huge fans of Russell and since Kingdom of Heaven (an extraordinary film by the way) Ridley Scott has seemed to have lost a lot of respect as well. 

It's a very rare occasion that a romantic comedy comes along and someone like Russell Crowe is the lead, and its a shame it was never given a chance but instantly marked as a disaster. What also hurt A Good Year was its lack of publicity, but sometimes a film that doesn't make a whole a lot of money or receive a much hype tends to more enjoyable than those that do. This seems to be the case especially during 2006 with films such as The Illusionist and The Prestige proving that big budgets and billion dollar box office aren't everything.

A Good Year isn't your typical "romantic comedy", it's not slapstick or silly like many of the romantic comedies today, this has a little more depth to it. So if you go into this film thinking you’re going to see some hilarious film like Hitch or Two Weeks Notice you’re going to be disappointed.  A Good Year has some heart to it with a little more concentration on the romance, not only between the characters but between Max and his surroundings.

Russell Crowe plays the role of Max Skinner, a real cutthroat in the business world. There isn't much Max won't do to make an easy million, and there is no one that Max will let get in his way. But his life of fast paced money making is about to slow down. He receives news of the passing of his Uncle Henry, and acquires a small fortune as the new owner of his Uncle's rustic villa and vineyards in France.  Upon arriving, Max is set to sell everything off and return to the hustle and bustle of the business world, but the property is in a constant state of decay, the pool is empty and full of cow crap, the tennis court tattered and the once wonderful wine that was made from the property's very own vineyard is so horrible that not even a drunk would touch it. 

Every time Max tries to leave the romance of his surroundings seem to hold him back, forcing him to remember the great days of his youth. As the grand memories continue to revive his now bitter soul, Max begins to find himself slowly slipping out of his old demeanor and falls for one of the locals. But even old habits don't die that quickly, Max's love for money still seems his ultimate outreach, will his Uncle's villa soon become another piece of priceless real-estate long with his childhood memories, and will his relationship with the perfect woman be another one night stand?

A Good Year is simply another example of the versatility of Russell Crowe, an actor who appears to be bound by no genre, able to turn every character he takes on significantly different and unique. Maybe it's Crowe alone that makes A Good Year worth watching, but the heart of the film, the beautiful scenery, and the quirky music certainly doesn't hurt, it all adds to the essence of the film making you wish you were there. It's one of my favorite romantic comedies and well worth a watch by any fan of the genre.



  1. Ab excellent review of an excellent film. Thank you!! :-D

  2. "A Good Year" is an adorable souffle of a movie that has become one of my faves of the past few years for its sheer quirky sunniness.
    However, the critics wanted and expected prime rib roast with potatoes and gravy, a la Gladiator. So they skewered it mercilessly.
    My mother watched and loved it. When I told her the critics hated it, she snorted and shot back "What do THEY know, anyway ?"
    True enough.

  3. ^
    Frankly I just don't think the critics liked the idea of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott doing this type of film no matter what. I think of Hitchcock's Marnie, a film that's pawned has one of his worst simply because it was a different type of film than he usually did. Sometimes I think critics get in their head that specific actors and directors should stick to one genre of film and anything outside that genre just isn't give a chance.

  4. I have recently become enamoured with Ms. Cotillard and Russell Crow is ridiculously talented, so I should probably see this one.

  5. @Andrew - well I'm not a big Cotillard fan, but as a Crowe enthusiast I thoroughly recommend this. It's got a lot of other great actors in it as well.

  6. Excellent job~ I totally agree.

    I also agree that someone dropped the ball on the publicity end! This was a great film.

  7. love love love this film! maxie may be a bit of a wanker at the start, but the beautiful fannie brings out his best. and as to russell's not being able to handle comedy - he's a very funny man, a very smart man, and a phenomenal actor, and i'd love to see him take on the genre again! he got it absolutely note-perfect.

  8. First thing first, those first two photos of Crowe are adorable!! ehm, ok now that I got that out of the way... yes, I enjoyed this movie, too. I just saw 'em not too long ago and gave it a pretty good review. I really don't know what the critics are expecting here, I mean, can't they accept that Crowe is an actor with incredible range and that he doesn't need to be swinging a sword just to keep us entertained?! Abbie Cornish and Tom Hollander are great addition to the cast, though I quite like the Indian girl who played Crowe's assistant.


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