A Good Year (2006)
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Directed By: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russell Crowe, Marion Cotillard, Albert Finney, Freddie Highmoore, Abbie Cornish, Didier Bourdon, Tom Hollander, Archie Punjabi
Language: English and French
“A man should acknowledge his losses just as gracefully as he celebrate his victories”
A Good Year is the type of movie you watch on a warm Sunday afternoon with the love of your life besides you, having a good roast and a perfectly aged wine whispering into your mouth. It tells you what life is all about and converts you into someone willing to take some time out and living it.
The story starts off when a few vintages ago a young Max Skinner (Freddie Highmoore) has come to visit Uncle Henry (Albert Finney) at his estate in France to enjoy his summer and learn to appreciate the finer things in life. A glimpse into the character of Max shows he is a cocky little bugger who cheats to beat his uncle in a game of chess. And as you would have guessed many vintages later the boy doesn’t disappoint.
Adult Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is a London based trader whose industrious life is devoted unequivocally to earning Moolah. Everyday is a “Greedy Bastard Day” for him and he doesn’t care nor has time for anyone in his life. His parents died when he was young and his only relative is the uncle who owns a vineyard in France. He leads an army of lab rats and many a times goes against the rules of trading to earn huge sums from the market. One such endeavor lands him in an inquiry and gets him suspended and it is at this same time that Uncle Henry meets his end leaving Max his fine estate and vineyard.
Of course being the ‘Greedy Bastard’ that he is, he visits the estate (La Siroque) to sell it on the advice of his best friend cum real estate agent Charlie Willis (Tom Hollander). To sell, it needs to be repaired and so he procrastinates his return trying to make it beautiful and hence squeeze as much money from it as he can. But the time spent for this beautification brings back the memories which are, as he says “grand” and he meets a beautiful but feisty cafe owner Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard) and falls in bed with her.
But as they say a dog’s tail can’t be straightened- he remains fractious with the winemaker Francis Duflot (Didier Bourdon) and goes into overdrive to sell when Christie Roberts (Abbie Cornish) the illegitimate daughter of uncle Henry arrives out of the blue. From there on, how he sells La Siroque and moves back to his rat’s race of a life forms the rest of the movie.
Ridley Scott is known for action adventures and this is a completely different genre- there are no swords, periodic costumes or action, so I was skeptical before watching it. But the movie is really well made and completely makes you love yourself. The frames are beautiful and he makes the estate though badly managed still look alluring by his direction. There is one scene in particular where Max has fallen inside an empty swimming pool and looks over for help and Fanny is standing on the wall. The frame moves slowly and steadily first showing her legs then followed by her skirt fluttering in the wind, then onto her bosom and finally resting on her face. By that time you go weak in the knees and fall in love with Fanny and the movie. This one scene is a big enough proof that Ridley Scott is a brilliant director and is comfortable in every genre.
This movie has some great dialogues specially during flashbacks with Uncle Henry delivering great lines and teaching young Max about life and its finer aspects. It also has a pleasant soundtrack and food which whets your appetite (civet of wild boar marinated in red wine and blood pressed from the carcass). And of course there is a huge amount of the “nectar that is incapable of lying” which whispers to you and leaves you befuddled about your choice of rat race.
Watch it, as Ridley Scott with his muse Russell Crowe and the beautiful Marion Cotillard serve you an escape from your busy life.