A Good Year - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Good Year Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 16, 2014
A Good Year is a perfectly enjoyable Sunday afternoon-type movie and an interesting departure for Hollywood heavyweights Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. Crowe is Max, an arrogant, workaholic London stockbroker who inherits a vineyard in the south of France from his recently deceased uncle whom he hasn't seen in years but with whom he used to spend summers at the vineyard as a child. Max hurries down to Provence intending to sell the property as soon as possible and then resume his fast-track life in London several million pounds richer. Things however don't work out quite so simply. Will Max grow to love the vineyard and decide to stay there instead? Will he also fall in love with a local waitress? Will he become a nicer person in the process? No prizes for guessing the answers to these questions. To its credit, A Good Year pretty much wears its unoriginality on its sleeve and makes no effort to be anything that it isn't. It's certainly as far removed from Crowe and Scott's previous collaboration, Gladiator, as it's possible to be. It's simply a straightforward, fairly sentimental romantic comedy, nicely scripted and acted with some beautifully photographed French locations. It's nice to see Crowe attempting to broaden his range; he's by no means a natural comic but I did enjoy his performance which recalls both Cary and Hugh Grant at times. He's also helped by the script giving him some very funny one-liners. The film makes full use of its lush Provencal locations with plenty of golden, sun-dappled cinematography, all the more beautiful for being set alongside the steely blues and greys of London. No reinvention of the cinematic wheel then, and far from either Crowe or Scott's best work but there are a lot worse ways to spend a couple of hours. 4 1/2 Stars 2-9-14
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2012
Altho well made and scripted, with an A-list cast to boot, and Ridley Scott's sublime direction, there's nothing fresh in this generic romcom, making for quality yet forgettable fare.
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2011
It's a Romantic-Comedy that fails in the romance and comedy department. The story is oddly paced and Crowe seems a little lost trying to play a character in a Rom-Com.
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2011
"Pardon my lips. They find joy in the most unusual places."
Russell Crowe as Max Skinner, a hardened English businessman, who finds his heart being softened when he inherits his beloved late uncles chateau and vineyard in the French countryside. He works hard only to get a "vacation" and slowly begins to appreciate the simple things in life... the acting around the table (led by Russell Crowe) is one of the best i've seen so far in a drama film, for a long time even though im not a huge fan of RC ,and Freddie Highmore, who played Crowes character when he was young also delivered a stellar performance in my opinion.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2011
All good directors make at least one really bad film, and considering how quickly Ridley Scott works these days, it was bound to happen sooner or later. After the production problems on Kingdom of Heaven, it only seemed fair that Scott would want to take on something much less ambitious or epic. But in A Good Year, we find both director and star completely out of their depths, handling material which at best plays against their strengths and at worst is completely beneath them.

Things start off in London with an agreeable first ten minutes. Apart from a clichéd shot of the Gherkin (Hollywood's way of reminding us that we are in London), the opening scenes on the trading floor are well-shot and well-played. Even though it's retreading old ground, with Russell Crowe pulling the exact same trick that Dan Aykroyd did in Trading Places, it's directed with a decent enough choice of camera angles to pull us in.

Like all of Scott's films, there is no denying that A Good Year looks fantastic. Where Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven boasted washed-out colour palettes which took you into the heart of a bloody battle, A Good Year is a much more glossy and upbeat affair. The metallic blues and greens of the City of London are contrasted by the golden fields of the French countryside and the whitewashed walls of the chateau. This visual style works especially well in the flashback scenes, with the warm colour schemes helping to generate some sense of affection.

Sadly, however, all this glossy shooting amounts to little more than putting cheap plonk into Champagne bottles, or old wine into new wine skins. Beneath its modern, bang-up-to-date surface, A Good Year is as tired and well-worn as any romantic comedy we've seen in the last ten years. It's trite, clichéd, sappy and contrived - in short, it's not good at all.

The first big problem is with the cast. Albert Finney is the ideal choice for Uncle Henry and Freddie Highmore is pretty convincing at the young Max. But for all his many talents, Russell Crowe simply does not do light romantic comedy. He doesn't have any real comic timing, his English accent frequently wanders into Kiwi, and with his gruff baritone and prominent jawline he's not the most heart-warming screen presence. His portrayal of an eccentric English stock trader wanders very close to caricature both in voice and characterisation: sometimes he's trying to be suave like Cary Grant, sometimes clumsy and lovable like Hugh Grant, and he never gets either of them right.

This problem becomes even more noticeable when Marion Cotillard is introduced. Cotillard is a great actress with real range and a magnetic screen presence, so much so that she often makes even her most formidable co-stars look like rank amateurs. This wasn't such a big deal in Big Fish, because Tim Burton knew how to keep the focus on the central father-son relationship without letting her character be just a cipher. But just as in Nine or Public Enemies, the film feels less dynamic when she isn't on screen, and once you've been introduced you really notice when she's gone.

Because Crowe isn't a natural comic actor, the 'com' elements of this rom-com are played so broadly it's insulting. We get all sorts of highly choreographed pratfalls, such as Max falling face down into the mud at the bottom of the swimming pool, or the running jokes about scorpions entering the house. Scott even resorts to lazy camera tricks to hurry the jokes along, as if he himself didn't have faith in the screenplay. In a typical example, Max is given a Smart City Car to ferry himself around, and Scott speeds up the footage of him driving round and round a roundabout in such a fashion as to drain any enjoyment out of what was already a very simply joke.

Then there is the plot itself, which is incredibly predictable and increasingly unbelievable. Just look at the setup: a cold-hearted but eccentric City trader goes out to a chateau in France with the intentional of selling it and getting on with his life. The shorter, more interesting and most ambitious option would have been to have said character sell the chateau and then go home again. That at least would have been a test of Scott's ability to take an unusual or implausible storyline and make it dramatically interesting.

Instead, A Good Year settles for the same old story of a cold man's heart melting in the warm sun as he realises the meaning of life and the nature of happiness. In order to keep Crowe at the chateau, various sub-plots are introduced which only serve to make the story all the more contrived and convoluted. We might buy the idea of Max being suspended for a week for dodgy trading, but the arguments with Duflot, or the arrival of his cousin, or his relationship with Fanny Chenal, are all structured or invoked in a hotch-potch way. Whenever one element doesn't work or becomes boring, the film randomly picks on another, and when all of them become boring it either resorts to a flashback or a boring montage (and sometimes, as with the tennis match, we get both!).

If we do take the time to focus on the characters, we really struggle to find any of them sympathetic or believable enough for us to invest our time in their travails. Sure, we're hardly in Noah Baumbach territory - we don't find ourselves hating everyone on screen after ten minutes. But it's hard to care about people who are either (a) exceedingly wealthy; (b) incompetent; (c) aimless and happy-go-lucky; or (d) all of the above.

In its defence, A Good Year is at least trying to break free from the rom-com mould, in which the only relationship of note is between the leading stars, making it obvious that they will end up together. But even here it's doesn't have the strength of its convictions, settling for recycled Richard Curtis schmaltz and quirky set-pieces over the comparatively sharp dialogue going on in London. The central relationship between Crowe and Cotillard seems inherently mismatched due to their opposing outlooks on life and money, and the twist about the latter kissing Max when they were children just reeks of a screenwriter running out of ideas.

On top of all this, the film presents a caricatured version of France, in which every native character drinks wine, eats croissants, smokes heavily or works in a café in the centre of town. Luflot and his wife live on a pittance to keep the vineyards going, and yet they are still able to produce a hearty banquet complete with highly expensive brandy. Even the few moments of cross-cultural humour, like Crowe's running jibe about Lance Armstrong to the French cyclists, feel totally lazy and unsophisticated.

A Good Year is a huge misstep for both Scott and Crowe, and is frankly an all-round embarrassment. It is easily Scott's weakest film since Someone to Watch Over Me, and may well be the worst film he has ever made. It's even too annoying to be enjoyed as escapist tosh. The cast give their all and probably got a nice holiday in the process of making this. But for those of us who have to sit through the results of their bonnes vacances, A Good Year leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2008
Nothing special here. It was nice to see Crowe in a different role but there was nothing new here. I think I've seen this kind of movie like 5 other times. Man gets villa and wants to sell it, meets girl, events happen that change his mind so he doesn't sell villa, and gets the girl.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2009
Such a beautiful fairytaile
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2010
Not a career leap for either Crowe or Scott, but its a very fun movie with a nice little "Enjoy Life" message at the end
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2009
This was just ... awful. I had much fonder feeling towards A Good Year while it was just a vague, shadowy film I sort of wanted to watch someday. The actual storyline was not bad and Marion Cotillard was brilliant as always; but those are the only compliments I can give. Practically every scene, every shot, every line, was just irritating in some way or another. I want to say that I do not like Russell Crowe, but that is stretching it a bit. I've only seem him in one other movie, so I cannot really have an accurate opinion of him. However, in this role, he is just ... wrong. Somebody like Johnny Depp could have shown, but Crowe should just stick to playing gladiators and sea captains. Just a huge disappointment for me. A Good Year is one of those rare films I've actually had a hard time forcing myself to sit through.
Super Reviewer
March 2, 2007
Russel Crowe has never been better. His most astonishing and magnificent performance since A Beautiful Mind. Albert Finney gives a brilliant performance. A terrifically entertaining, frequently funny, very sweet and tastefully romantic film. Director, Ridley Scott's best film in year's. A triumph. A marvelous, wonderful and endlessly enjoyable movie that takes your breath away. Brilliant, excellent and outstanding. As good as movies get. Great fun from start to finish. A beautiful film that touches you, makes you laugh and makes you smile. Completely compelling and unforgettable. A truly amazing movie. Beautiful scenery and great values.
Super Reviewer
November 1, 2009
A cliche year.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2009
The story of the cold-hearted investment broker who's learning a lesson about what really counts in life may not be entirely new, but it is told without too much preaching here. The movie may not have anything spectacularly breathtaking to offer in those two hours (well, except for the gorgeous Marion Cotillard and Abbie Cornish), but it flows rather well, is entertaining and just beautifully photographed. The French Provence almost feels like an additional character, and although the idyllic life there maybe contain one or another stereotype it is hard not to fall for it. Decent film, even though rather unusual for a director like Ridley Scott. But why should he not be allowed to make a movie that just celebrates the beauty of life, without anyone getting killed?
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2009
It wasn't horrible, but this kind of movies always tend to be corny and predictable.
I wonder what happened to Ridley Scott, who was once interested in dark and complex stories and now seems to be doing the easiest, most acquiescent products.
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2009
Yes, it's true, the story is an old one. Someone gets caught up in the world of getting and spending, thus losing touch with what is deemed "more valuable" in life. Getting and spending, in this particular fairy tale, pale in comparison to root values one must rediscover, trekking back to the source, to childhood and to revered relatives, living or dead, in order to recall and to re-incorporate one's true core reasons for being. Not to mention that this is Russell Crowe, and I think that everyone and their grandmothers are aware of the personality quirks which sometimes negative Crowe publicity has burned into our collective consciousness. All this being said, A Good Year surprised me. Not only is it loaded with good strong women characters, but Crowe's ability to do light comedy made me sit up and pay attention. When I think of Crowe -- I mean the actor, not the human being -- I must say that comedy does not come to mind -- and neither does romance, for that matter. His comic timing and lighter persona are good here, and this is a nice love story. So the story is hackneyed. Granted. Lots of stories are. This one is done well enough, however, to warrant a viewing.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2008
Russell Crowe is actually decent in this one (I hate to admit that, I really can't stand him!), but he plays a corporate jerk really well! Nice story as well.
Super Reviewer
September 9, 2008
Great Acting....Bad Plot
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2007
Beautiful scenery of course but a sweet story too. Nothing to set the world on fire but not nearly as bad as the reviews that greeted it on its premier would indicate.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2008
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scotts combination saved this movie from disaster. It actually turned out to be a decent movie worth watching, though there were some really slow parts and ive seen better from both of them, I hate to picture the movie if there was anyone else doing the directing and playing the main-role.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2007
Just like "Under the Tucson Sun", except it is a French vineyard instead of an Italian property. Ruthless English businessman stops to smell the roses - um grapevines when he remembers out why he had so much fun with his uncle as a kid.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2007
It's a nice sentimental piece that unfortunately feels formulaic by today's standards. If it had come out ten years earlier, I would have loved it.
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