A Good Year (2006)

Finally, on with the new year.

You know, I really could have used a bottle of wine while watching this, it would have set the mood just perfect. While I did enjoy watching A Good Year a great deal, it’s still a bit of a mixed bag with some glaring flaws. They had improved the story to be more wholesome and intact when adapting the book to the big screen format, but unfortunately they also made it a lot more formulaic and clichéd. The idea that Max is a selfish businessman only interested in selling the vineyard for profit and by chance ends up stuck in France where his memories of the vineyard slowly make him become a better person isn’t by itself a bad idea, even if we’ve all seen the trope way too often. No, my problem is that the way the movie goes about ends up feeling too contrived. Max only ends up spending one single week in the vineyard and everything just feels to move on a rushed pace because of that. It would have worked better in my opinion, if the time period was longer, for it to happen more gradually and slow.

Personally, I would have made Max get fired when he arrives at France, and strand him at the vineyard to contemplate what to do next (perhaps by having his stock scheme from the beginning of the movie turn get him in real trouble and turn him into a pariah so he couldn’t even get a job elsewhere), thus writing out the entire artificial conflict at the end of the movie where he’ backs at London and his boss gives him the option to either become partner or get a big fat severance check. The whole set up felt so forced because it’s just there to give some fake drama, as if we didn’t already know he goes back to France. It was also a bit dumb to have Crowe and Cotillard have met each other as kids and share a kiss, but it’s a minor gripe, I just saw it as completely unnecessary because it comes out of nowhere and has no real significance because they were already attracted to each other.

What in essence makes the movie work is the multiple flashbacks featuring Albert Finney as Max’s uncle, who does a wonderful job at being a really charming and bit eccentric wine maker. Without his convincing work, you would not have believed that the vineyard held so many warm memories to Max that it could slowly started to crack his cold business man armor and turn him back to the nice, non self-centered guy he was as a child when he spent his summers at the his uncle’s house.

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