A Good Year (2006)

(On DVD, July 2007) Trying to identify with a rich materialistic bastard as he inherits a magnificent property in Provence isn’t exactly an easy proposition. So the first few minutes of the film are sometimes obnoxious, as we’re asked to contemplate the rich workaholic man’s burden of a multi-million dollars estate. Play tiny violins, especially when we can all guess the dramatic arc that the character is going to take. But the film eventually warms up: It’s hard to stay mad at the beautiful cinematography, or at Russell Crowe’s rough charm. Pretty much everything unfolds as predicted, but it does so at a satisfying pace, slow enough to reflect the quiet French countryside. A Good Year often mis-steps and never quite reaches the level it aims for (a number of silly “fast-forward” comedic scenes detract from the rest of the film, for instance): in retrospect, Crowe and director Ridley Scott seem too rough for the light touch that the material requires. For a romantic comedy, the laughs are few and the romance seems like an afterthought. Oh well; at least there’s the scenery, and a number of performances to enjoy. One could do much, much worse: misguided films are usually preferable to terrible ones.

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