Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Good Year (2006)


After his uncle (Albert Finney) passes away, self-obsessed stock trader Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) returns to the chateau where he spent many years of his childhood, only to find it rundown, and riddled with memories.

Despite its flaws, A Good Year is a surprisingly charming affair. I can see why several years after its infamous critic bashing (26% on RT) it still holds a soft spot among fans of those involved. To be succinct, A Good Year is a moving that goes where many have gone before. The reformation of an asshole, who has a secret emotional side they keep hidden is no surprise. And at the same time Klein, Scott, and company are in no rush to redefine the genre. It's a romantic comedy that's less of a romance between Skinner and Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard), and is instead more a romance to the quiet, country side of France.

This is by no means a bad thing either. Scott's up-tempo directing style, compounded with beautiful scenery of rich lavish lifestyles we can never afford is appealing. It's amusing to see the locals interact, and the central cast are perfect, even if their characters are generally one note. They can be witty, goofy, and easy to attach to. Though I hate to say Max and Henry (the uncle) are the only ones given any real depth, and ironically Henry, who spends most of the film dead or in flashbacks, seems to be given more depth than any mainstay character. It's a shame, but Crowe, being his typical self, knows how to get more out of a one-note character than anyone. And that's where the film finds its saving grace.

For all of Scott's high tempo direction, the movie is a rather slow evolving tale. Characters come and go, and it has a rather episodic feel too it. Klein's intelligent dialogue script, works in favor of the personalities he has created. I just wish Klein had taken a few pages to really get into these characters. I kept feeling like something was going to happen, and while lots of things happened, nothing that ever sent me drowning in a sea of enjoyment did. Ultimately as the film's runtime passed along I sat entertained, but only mildly amused, and even less emotionally invested. Still, I was solidly entertained, and for most people that's an important factor. I still enjoy a some real depth though.

While A Good Year has all the charm a film of its nature should have, it doesn't go deep enough to get an overwhelming recommendation. Yet, I think it's solid enough to be worth your time, at the very least.


This was a special Happy Birthday Review for Common Sense Movie Reviews, be sure you head over there at some point today and wish him well!!!

6 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

It's Answer's B-day today? Ryan, then we should better go and prepare for the party, I'll cover the food and booze, you go hire some private dancers :)

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

Thanks for the review. Seeing that a 6.5 is a little bit higher than a 6.5 from myself I'm glad you somewhat enjoyed it. Your complaint about the supporting characters not being very deep is rather valid, although I must add how often does the romantic comedy genre have characters that aren't "one note"? A majority of the time even main characters are pretty stale and one dimensional.

My favorites scenes are probably Russell driving around in that little french car yelling "Lance Armstrong" at the French cyclists! I'd say I enjoy this film simply because it's a different film for both Scott and Crowe and I think it's an entertaining endeavor, plus it beats the pants off most romantic comedies put out in the last 10 years. This is Scott's Marnie, and I just happen to be part of the minority who love it.

Mike Lippert said...

Agreeing with many of your complaints, I actually really liked this movie. I think it is a far better throwback to the Carey Grant screwballish romantic comedies than say Leatherheads was. I really liked Crowe's character and was engaged with the situation as cliche as it may have been. I don't know, it's just kind of a nice change of pace from the typical genre fair we get these days.

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joanna said...

Although it's not what a great movie, the romantic story of that couple is pleasantly surprising. It's really relaxing, the images are special, and Russel Crowe's performance is outstanding. It's a movie that makes you think that you have a given destiny, which you have to follow.

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