Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Good Year

I was looking forward to this movie as it has a favourite actor of mine, Russell Crowe, in the leading role, however I knew very little about it.

Russell plays Maximillian, a bond trader who is ruthless, vicious, a workaholic and at his core, and lonely - although he doesn’t realize it yet. He spent idyllic summers of his childhood in France at his Uncle Henry’s ‘farmhouse’ which in reality is a chateau with vineyards. This uncle (Albert Finney) taught Max many of the important lessons in life although, typical of a child, he never realized this.

In the midst of his frantic life he hears of Henry’s passing and finds that the chateau has been left to him as Henry’s nearest living relative and this necessitates a visit to France to visit the notare and see the house, with a view to selling it as quickly as possible.

He is reacquainted with Messr. Duflot (Didier Bourdon) who has been the resident vigneron for the last 20 years and memories soon flood back of those pleasant summer days. After an unforeseen minor ‘accident’ occurs, Max fails to make it back to London for an important meeting and is suspended for a week. Under his enforced stay in France, he starts to fall under the spell of the chateau and starts to show signs of the man that Henry hoped he would become.

A love interest is introduced in the form of Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard), a beautiful and sultry brunette. A complication is also introduced in the form of Christie (played by another Australian, Abbie Cornish), a possibly illegitimate American daughter of Henry’s, who also knows a thing or two about winemaking.

I was surprised that Crowe would be cast as an Englishman, as even though he is trying to speak with an English accent, as an Australian, I can’t but help hear his natural accent come through a little. Then I saw it was directed by Ridley Scott, who directed Crowe in his award winning role in Gladiator, so perhaps some connection had led to the casting. Nevertheless, Crowe does a great job as a nasty son of a b…. but really comes into the fore in the gentler moments. Albert Finney is a consummate actor and plays his part brilliantly. Didier Bourdon is entertaining and believable and the actresses play their parts true as well.

There are some very amusing moments throughout the movie, all in all resulting in a gentle comedy/romance which leaves you smiling and grateful that even the worst sods can be redeemed.

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