A Good Year Ridley Scott

Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is an uncompromising git manipulating the London stock exchange to great profit. When his estranged Uncle Henry (Albert Finney) dies, he finds himself the sole inheritor of a decaying French estate. Eager to sell the property, he travels to France, only to find his uncle’s winemaker Francis Duflot (Didier Bourdon) in the way of a speedy return to business. Soon his situation is further complicated by romance in the form of illegitimate cousin Christie Roberts (Abbie Cornish) and fiery waitress Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard). Ridley Scott, however, pours his likeable cast into vapid, distasteful characters. Finney, as the focus of pathos and the story’s most reflected upon victim, is an arrogant womaniser remembered for an indulgent joie de vive. Freddie Highmore, compelling as Burton’s Charlie, is here no more than the inevitable precursor to the adult Max Skinner. Crowe, who has on occasion levied poor material in his favour, can only assemble himself as Skinner’s grouchy, cousin-chasing malcontent. This story’s direction only moves forward, with a compass and not an arc, with the changes in setting helping Skinner’s appeal about as much as they might help models in wine ads. From his shark-toothed opening to his shark-toothed end, Skinner rarely musters sympathy. Appealing performances from Cotillard and Cornish don’t add much to their one-dimensional writing, as romance and obstacle, respectively, and interchangeably. The ultimate supposition of A Good Year’s narrative is that unethical conduct and malice hold no consequences. Max Skinner cannot grow as a human being, but in the golden glow wine country, he is at home with pleasures as selfish as those urban ones he has escaped. (Fox)