Ridley Scott has proven himself when it comes to comedy and light-hearted fares. While Thelma & Louise and Matchstick Men weren't exactly family films, they were certainly different than the action epics we know that Ridley Scott can masterfully do. Scott took a lot of heat for Kingdom Of Heaven, but for those who purchased and saw the director's cut know that the film was unjustly cut down and ruined. A Good Year on the other hand is just not a great project. The script doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before, it's just a schmaltzy tale about a man who learns some life lessons and falls in love in the process.
The problem with the movie is that has an incredibly hard time trying to find its footing. Ridley Scott knows how to use the setting to really capture the essence of a story, and he undoubtedly does that. However, there were some scenes where I was just wondering what was going on. It was as if I were watching a cartoon, especially in one scene where Russell Crowe drives around a fountain in his Smartcar in fast motion. Some choices I seriously questioned, and I usually don't question Ridley Scott. Okay, now let's move onto the positive side of the film. Once we get into the second act the film does indeed find its footing and stays with a consistent tone. We can finally relax and watch the movie for what it is. The characters are all really great even though they are pretty flat. The film is also beautifully shot, which is the essence of a Ridley Scott film. He contrasts England and France perfectly, and honestly I think that's the reason he took the project. When he read the script and saw that the essence of the film was a man out of place in his surroundings I'm sure that intrigued him. Unfortunately we don't go very far, and the lessons learned are pretty simple and not too meaningful. Visually the film is stunning, and musically there were some great choices. A lot of great songs are chosen to help the movie move along. Marc Streitenfield makes his head composer debut with A Good Year. Streitenfield previously worked with Hans Zimmer at Media Ventures and was a close assistant and editor for Zimmer. Streitenfield's score is very light and creates the right tone for the film, I cannot help but hear the similarities to previous Zimmer scores. As a Hans Zimmer fan I'm saying that in a good way though.
Russell Crowe is a great actor, whether you hate his real-life antics or not. He plays a stuck-up British stock broker who rekindles his childhood memories with his life loving uncle. He saves the movie and makes it entertaining to watch, and as an audience we can accept the fact that he is a bit cold-hearted and we want him to warm up. So, instead saying "hurry up and learn your life lesson", we can enjoy the character discovering the lessons for himself. The supporting cast also add great charm to the film's tone.
The film made me smile. I laughed a bit and felt good, especially during a scene where Russell Crowe drives by some French bikers, flips them off, and yells "LANCE ARMSTRONG!". The acting is decent and it's a good movie. The only problem is that the story is a bit unoriginal and the tone is rarely consistent. Wait for DVD, not a must see in theaters. Hopefully Ridley Scott will be more in his element when American Gangster comes out next year.