A Good Year
starring Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Didier Bourbon and Tom Hollander
screenplay by Marc Klein
directed by Ridley Scott
Based on the book by Peter Mayle, A Good Year feels very much like Under a Tuscan Sun (2003, directed by Audrey Wells, starring Diane Lane), although they are different stories. They are both very sunny, bright, warm films (one set in Italian Tuscany, the other in French Provence), and filled with fertility goddess women and earthy, authentic men-folk. Great fantasy! Marion Cotillard is of especial interest, having just won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Edith Piaf (1915-1963) in La Vie en Rose.
Like Under a Tuscan Sun, A Good Year features a troubled foreigner (an American in the case of Diane Lane, a Briton in the case of Russell Crowe) who finds new life and new love through atonement and reconciliation in the Mediterranean world. The fantasy escape features the effects of leaving the rat-race and the 24-hour cell phone behind (as if they don’t have cell phones in Italyor southern France, or as if they don’t have cut-throat capitalism there, either). A Good Year was okay, but I thought Under a Tuscan Sun was better. Under a Tuscan Sun seemed more confident in the story it was telling. Diane Lane didn’t know what she was doing buying a vineyard in a foreign land on a whim, but at least she was committed to it. Russell Crowe, playing mercenary banker, Max, also doesn’t know what he is getting into when he accidentally inherits a small vineyard from an estranged uncle in Provence, and it takes him far too long to decide what he really wants to do with his life. He is far too busy ogling, or pretending he isn’t ogling the fertility goddess French women’s breasts and legs. So on the whole I think A Good Year could have told a better story than it did. But like I said, it was okay and it made me feel warm. I especially liked the place given to loud cicada chirruping and the hazy early morning landscape scenes of vineyards outside the chateau windows.
Also of interest, apart from Marion Cotillard, is Tom Hollander, whom you will recognize from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End). I was happy with myself for recognizing him immediately.