Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) is a very successful, ruthless and ambitious stockbroker in London. He is loved by women, envied and hated by his co-workers and rivals. His career and reputation are his whole life. To him, leaving London even during a weekend is unquestionable. So that’s why he is reluctant when he receives the news of his uncle Henry’s (Albert Finney) death. Max is Henry’s sole beneficiary but legal details force him to go to France in order to claim the estate, which consists of a beautiful farmhouse with a pool, garden and a big vineyard.
Convinced that he can handle things on a day trip, Max goes to France. He starts being haunted by the memories of his childhood and Henry, spent talking, playing games and drinking wine – idle and fun times that couldn’t have been more different than Max’s current hectic life. When he arrives at the estate, he is still set on spending as little time as possible in France and getting back to his life in London; but funny accidents, French laws and the aftermath of Max’s questionable but very profitable stock management strategy obliges him to spend a little more time in France. However as time passes, Max becomes more emotional about the place and really starts enjoying his life, especially after meeting the gorgeous and passionate French woman Fanny (Marion Cotillard). So what should Max do? Sell the estate, go back to London and forget about Fanny? Or rethink about his priorities and keep enjoying what life has to offer him?
A Good Year is simply one of my favorite movies. It ended up making me a Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard fan. This is the first film I saw Cotillard in but not my first Crowe movie. But prior to this film, I just didn’t like Crowe for some reason. I had nothing against his capabilities as an actor but to me, he lacked the sense of humor, self-depreciating manner that made me warm up to many of my favorite actors. But this movie, Russell played a great, flawed character that perfectly transformed from an apparently insensitive but highly smart jerk to the real, fun-loving and passionate character his childhood self promised us to be, while engaging in great comedic situations but great liners (and thankfully, the timing for thje comedy was natural). The scene where he falls into the pool, his attempts to save himself and Fanny’s revenge are just priceless.
A Good Year is one international film: English Max is played by New Zealand-born and Australian raised Russell Crowe, Max’s youth and Uncle Henry are played by English actors Freddie Highmore (August Rush, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland) and Albert Finney (Big Fish, Erin Brockovich). Max’s might-be-cousin, American Christie is played by Australian Abbie Cornish (Bright Star, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Candy). French actress Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies, Inception) stars as Fanny. And of course I have to note that Tom Hollander and Richard Coyle (Coupling’s Jeff, The Best Man, Prince of Persia) and Tom Hollander (Pride and Prejudice, Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence). Note that the actors playing Mr. And Mrs. Duflot (Didier Bourdon and Isabelle Candelier)are also priceless.
This movie is one little gem. It is funny and romantic, with a great cast, adorable cinematography and a lovely story. Based on the novel by Peter Mayle, written by Marc Klein and directed by Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven), this is a must see for anyone who wants to have a great time, laugh a lot, smile all the time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Favorite Scenes and Lines:
*After Max has won his company millions of dollars through his questionable strategy:
Kenny: Ready for the fan mail?
Max: Shoot, sunshine.
Max keeps reading his paper casually as Kenny keeps reading the messages.
Kenny: Bastard. Bastard.
Kenny: Burn in hell.
Kenny: Rot in hell.
Kenny: Congratulations , you are my hero.
Max: Who sent that?
Kenny: Your lawyer.
Duflot: (on Fanny) Remember what Proust said – leave pretty women to men with no imagination.
Max: Duflot, I am a banker. I have no imagination.
Max: (on the candle-lit table Mrs. Duflot prepared for him and his potential cousin) Ludivine? Don’t you think this is a bit much? I mean, she is my cousin.
Ludivine Duflot: Almost all French aristocrat have, how you say… liaison with their cousins, yes?
Max: (amused) Gosh, that explains a lot.
Max: (to his lawyer Charlie, played Tom Hollander) Just a quick question. You’d know this. In France, is it actually illegal to shag your own cousin?
Charlie: Only if she is ugly.
Max sees Fanny for the first time after Fanny fills the pool with water and Max has to swim in the dirt. He goes up to her in the restaurant.
Max: Joan of Arc?
Fanny: Oh, Jacques Cousteau
Max: You tried to drown me!
Fanny: You tried to run me over with your little car!
Max: What do you mean I tried to run you over? What sort of bullocks is that?
Fanny: You were driving in your midget car. And I believe you had your ass stuck very far up your ass. (pulling up her skirt – revealing her leg and part of her bum to show her giant bruise) Look at the
Damage you have caused! You tried to kill me, I tried to kill you. (she walks away angrily- Max is fascinated)
Max: My God. She is fantastic.