From the ferocious duo of Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe comes a benign, sappy romantic comedy which fails to impress on many counts. Set in London and France, the story traces the journey of a irreverent investment analyst Skinner (Crowe) who inherits his favourite uncle's vineyard and estate in France. Eager to sell it off immediately for good money, he heads there after he has been suspended for dodgy deals on the bond market. Things get a little complicated when an illegitimate child of his late uncle shows up, looking for her father. Skinner, however, promptly falls in love with a charming local waitress and after a while finds the sleepy and beautiful town to be quite agreeable. How he takes the decision to give up the bustle of his city life and the material attachments of money, fame and position, to settle into this dreamy place in France for a more sedate lifestyle forms the crux of the story.
In a lot of ways the story seeks to explore the meaning of modern city life, what its truly worth and our inability to find true happiness and inner peace and tranquility, even when it it right under our noses. In part it is also a treatise on the journey of boy to man, and lessons that life has to offer, shown beautifully in flash backs through the many conversations between young Skinner and his uncle Henry (Albert Finney). These are by far the best parts of the film, rich in language and cinematic effect. The performances are good, especially form the supporting cast. Crowe is of course much more convincing as the 'tough as nails' bond trader. As a romantic lead he tries hard, but is just about adequate. He should leave that to the Hugh Grants and the Mel Gibsons of the world and focus more on bashing people to death with 'Gladius Hispaniensis', and other Roman weaponry. Which Ridley Scott, too, may consider for his next venture.
'A Good Year' is just about watchable fare and ends up being light, mishy-mashy, some what feel good and in the end nothing unique. Save yourself the $10, rent the DVD or download off the net, if legal in your neck of the woods.