A Good Year (PG)

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The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/10/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

The tourist brochure photography and colourful supporting cast make up for a lot, but this never quite works because it's neither as funny or as charming as it thinks it is.

What's it all about?
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott reunite for this middle-aged fantasy that plays like a male version of Under the Tuscan Sun. Based on the best-selling novel by Peter Mayle (who wrote A Year In Provence), A Good Year stars Crowe as Max Skinner, a shallow, unscrupulous City boy who inherits a Provence vineyard when his beloved uncle Henry (Albert Finney) dies.

Max intends to sell the place quickly and get back to work, but childhood memories (i.e. flashbacks featuring Finney and Freddie Highmore) and the adorable locals keep getting in the way, particularly Fanny (Marion Cotillard), a gorgeous and inexplicably single cafe owner. And then, to complicate things still further, an American girl (Abbie Cornish) arrives, claiming to be Henry's lovechild.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the supposedly lighthearted comedy moments just don't work. Also, Max is an incredibly obnoxious character and his subsequent mellowing isn't terribly convincing. Basically it's like being asked to root for the worst boss you've ever had, for almost two hours.

Alongside the teeth-grindingly smug nature of the script (Scott and Mayle both own vineyards in Provence), Crowe has to shoulder some of the blame. He's a terrific dramatic actor but romantic comedies are not his strong suit and his performance frequently seems strained as a result.

The Good
That said, the photography is stunning and the supporting cast are superb - the few comedy moments that actually work are entirely down to them. Cotillard is heart-stoppingly gorgeous and there's enjoyable comic support from Didier Bourdon and Isabelle Candelier as the couple who run the vineyard.

Worth seeing?
In short, the colourful supporting cast ensure that this remains watchable but it never quite comes together. Watch Sideways again instead.

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Content updated: 12/05/2012 09:45

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