A Good Year Movie Review

Adrienne Brookstein, Managing Editor

Over the course of life, people tend to change. Some people change in the blink of an eye, and others are stubborn and fight off anything that they don’t want coming their way. Yet, life still has the power to change people regardless of what they want or how they feel. As the French say, C’est la vie (that’s life).

An American film with a French twist, A Good Year directed by Ridley Scott, truly displays the dynamic nature of life. The film is a witty comedy/drama and can be enjoyed by many. Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is a snobby bank investor from London who believes he is living life to its fullest. He’s a rich predator who whose actions have a pronoun influence on the people around him.

Max is your typical cold fish, a moneyobsessed, and selfish man. He lives for money, and ignores the simple pleasures of life. Yet Max’s life changes when he finds out that his Uncle Henry has passed away, and he has inherited a chateau in France.

As a child, Max grew up on that chateau with his Uncle Henry (Albert Finney), and they were extremely close when he was younger. The estate encompassed a wine vineyard, and a vast majority of the country had connections to it. The vineyard appeared to provide terrible wine, but throughout the fil it becomes known that the wine isn’t the only important factor; and the chateau itself is a hidden gem. In addition, this chateau in France was not only a home to Max and his uncle, but also to his two loyal employees, Monsieur and Madame Duflot.

The beautiful chateaumething out of Max that he had believed was nonexistent, happiness. He instantly remembered his best memories of childhood upon entering his old home, and recalled the love he once had for life. Those happy times ignite a flame inside of Max that refuses to be diminished once again. Crowe surprised the audience by having a funny and quirky demeanor, compared to his usual assertive behavior.

Max is torn between mind and heart, and the challenge became more prevalent throughout the course of the movie. Like many other films, Max develops a love interest with Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard), a French waitress who storms into his life. Both characters are scared to let love into their hearts out of fear of being hurt once again, yet the pull is so strong that not even their doubting thoughts can overpower what is standing right in front of them.

Despite Max’s rebirth, the paradise that everyone seeks in the film was not always perfect. Midway through the film Max’s long lost cousin, Chrissie (Abbie Cornish) shows up and wants to learn about her father. She lived in Napa Valley, and is Henry’s illegitimate daughter. They never met, yet wine seemed to run in their blood. She was an expert herself, and showed up everyone who tried to discourage her about the vineyard. This inevitably creates chaos determining the fate of the chateau, and the characters that inhabit it.

Max was ultimately left to decide if he should follow his heart or his mind, Max is faced with the biggest decision of his life. Which will have repercussions not only for himself, but everyone else around him.

A vast majority of the film is Max reminiscing about the only person whom he’s ever truly loved, his uncle. Albert Finney and Freddie Highmore (as young Max) have great onscreen chemistry and have a fun, witty relationship. Finney is engaging and convincing as Max’s biggest role model, with whom he had a falling out. The two had not spoken for the past ten years, and the cause of this miscommunication was left unsaid. The audience was left with an unsatisfied taste of confusion, even after most of the loose ends of the film had been tied off.

This 2006 hidden jewel was filmed in France and the scenery was absolutely superb. The memories of Max’s childhood were brought to life through elaborate sets and flashbacks. In addition, the music also helps set the tone of the story, and guides the flow of the film. Marc Streitenfeld, a music composer who is known to work with Ridley Scott, conveyed the environment and the atmosphere of French life fantastically.

In addition, this was the second movie that Scott and Crowe had worked on together. Gladiator was an action-packed film that won an academy award in 2000,

This movie may not be an academy award winner, but it is most definitely worth watching. The actors portray their characters wonderfully, and display human desires and emotion beautifully. The movie is easily relatable, and gives the audience a sense of humanity. This feel-good film will give you a warm feelings and make you smile with the outcome.