Complete A-Z list

Good Year, A


Stars: Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Marion Cotillard, Abbie Cornish, Tom Hollander, Freddie Highmore

Director: Ridley Scott

A pleasant, undemanding yarn, based on Peter Mayle's bestseller, that just drifts along, much like life in French Provence, where it's largely set.

Crowe is Max, a hotshot London trader who has almost forgotten childhood summers spent with his Uncle Henry (Finney) at the chateau overlooking a vineyard whose vinegary 'plonk' conceals the legendary wines hidden in Henry's cellar.

When Henry dies, Max inherits the estate. Intending only to stay a day, Max is trapped there by a fall into an empty swimming pool, and is soon intoxicated by the place, not to mention the local restaurant owner (Cotillard). He tries to fight it. 'This place doesn't suit my life,' he tells her. 'No Max,' she chides. 'It's your life that doesn't suit this place.'

Wavering over the sale of the property, Max encounters a spanner in the works in the shape of a woman (Cornish) who claims to be Henry's illegitimate daughter.

Those who enjoyed Mayle's earlier A Year in Provence in print and on TV will find this does, as it were, exactly what it says on the cover. Not a great deal happens, but the charm is in Crowe's performance (even with a slightly dodgy English accent), the setting in summer and the colourful locals our hero encounters.

David Quinlan

USA/UK/France 2006. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by De Luxe.
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Oct 2006