Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Take - A Good Year - starring Russell Crowe and Albert Finney

A Mini Movie Review
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

A Good Year (2006) is a romantic comedy/drama starring Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man - 2005) as Max Skinner, Parisienne actress Marion Cotillard (Big Fish - 2003) as Fanny Chenal, and Albert Finney (Traffic - 2000) as Uncle Henry. Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - 2005) plays the crotchety child Maximilian. The film is directed by Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven - 2005).

The orphaned young Max spends the best moments of his childhood on the vineyard estates of his beloved Uncle Henry. By the time he is a successful adult stockbroker living in London, he has become so heartless and callous that Uncle Henry and the vineyard are all but forgotten. Ironically, Uncle Henry has not forgotten Max. Henry had always intended that Max should inherit the estate where they had enjoyed games of chess, wine, good conversation, and each other’s company. His superstitions, however, prevent him from formalizing this arrangement. The obvious problems then ensue, including the arrival of an unexpected possible heir, with mixed results.

Russell Crowe is a fine actor, and he is able to turn in a good performance even in this less demanding part. Albert Finney is, of course, spectacular as a crusty, dirty old man. The supporting cast is full of charming, perfect characters played by Archie Panjabi (The Constant Gardener - 2005) as the wise-cracking personal assistant Gemma, and French actors Didier Bourdon and Isabel Candelier as Monsieur and Madame Duflot, to name some of the more memorable roles.

The rustic weatherworn farmhouse and prolific leafy grapevines on Uncle Henry’s neglected estate are shown to maximum advantage against the backdrop of the beautiful scenery of Provence, in the south of France. A very receptive mood is provided for the film’s audience, and for the workaholic Max. There is a memorable romantic scene in the film, where toute le monde is enjoying live music outdoors and a sudden heavy rainstorm begins. This unexpected development allows an opportunity for Max to show his chivalrous and more tender side.

I opted to see A Good Year instead of a more popular and far more exciting film starring one of the darlings of Hollywood. I did not regret this decision for a moment. I was so completely enthralled by A Good Year that I wish I had taken my mother, as well as my daughter. Perhaps this is a “girlie” movie, but I believe girls and guys of all ages will appreciate the warm and fuzzy bon sentiment of A Good Year. We could all use a break from the harsh realities of daily life, and this film provides a much appreciated respite. [1:56]

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

[© 11/12/2006]


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