A Good Year
On the page it sounds like a bloody cheek. Knackered from directing his Moroccan medieval epic, Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott takes a paid holiday in the south of France (where he has a house) and tosses off a film adapted from a novel penned by an old mate from his pre-filmmaking days in the London advertising business, Peter Mayle. Mayle’s book is a reworking of his bestseller, A Year in Provence, based on an idea dreamed up by Pete’n’Rid after the latter read a newspaper article about scandalously high prices being paid for ‘garage wines’ (those without château or pedigree). Why, you ask, should I pay for rich old Ridley’s holiday?
Well, because the film he knocked off is a bit of a comic delight. Scott’s Gladiator, Russell Crowe (also apparently enjoying a rest), plays Max Skinner, a London stockbroker who inherits his uncle’s château and failing vinyard and begrudgingly discovers happiness in a slower pace of life. Crowe’s a very physical actor, and his attention to detail here impresses. Ditto Scott’s eye for visuals and feel for pace - his coup de grace is to reverse conventional pacing so that the film bolts out of the gate and finally comes to a complete halt without losing the viewer’s interest. Jaunty, cheeky and colourful, A Good Year has a good nose, even if it fails to linger on the palate.