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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Romance > Drama > Business > WIne > A Good Year (Widescreen DVD-Video)

A Good Year (Widescreen DVD-Video)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



Until recently, the odd consensus was that Ridley Scott was a mechanical filmmaker, something owed in part no doubt to his Kubrickian tendencies.  Thelma & Louise (1991) began to change that, but it took Gladiator (2000) to break down that myth.  So it is with some irony that his 2006 comedy/drama A Good Year was ignored by critics, missed by audiences and that Fox gave up on it without giving it a chance.


The romantic story without immature comedy is about the life of Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) from childhood to ace stock broker, tellings its story from the adult time, adding flashbacks with Freddie Highmore as a young Max Skinner and Albert Finney as surrogate parent/guardian and blood Uncle Henry.  It was a happy but distant time, a suppressed period about to return when Henry passes away and leaves his place in France to Max in the middle of his latest financial successes.


There he meets a sexy woman who eventually becomes a love interest (Marion Cotillard as Fanny Chenal) and Abbie Cornish plays blond Californian hiking gal Christine, who may be Henry's illegitimate daughter.  Completing the trio of interesting women in Max’s life is Archie Panjabi as Gemma, his secretary and schedule juggler.  In all this, Scott tries to evoke the great romantic foreign and silent films of the past while keeping a lively narrative going.


The film is more of a success than failure and by faux emotional standards, is as “human” as anything he has made to date.  It is far from his best work, but he is able to delve into style and class with a panache most directors would not begin to consider.  Crowe is also very good, though the yellow journalists are more interested in painting him to be the Tazmanian Devil than giving him the credit as an actor he deserves, which may have hurt the remarkable Cinderella Man (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and is cheating the audience out of some very strong, enjoyable work.


I hope DVD, the eventual Blu-ray and cable/satellite broadcasts will show everyone what they missed.  Cotillard and Panjabi are stars on the rise and Cornish might surprise us soon too, proving Scott’s knack for finding new talent.  If you have not sent his film and would like to see something that does not insult your intelligence, then see A Good Year.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by Marc Streitenfeld and has some visually pleasant moments, the kind people used to go to see in films all the time.  Now, too many seem to settle for second best of late.  Especially if you have a nice TV or HDTV, you will want to see how nice this is.  Though the DVD can only capture so much of the detail, it is a nice image and one you’ll want to try out once.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is good, typical of Scott’s films, and has a good mix of ambiance, music and dialogue.  Extras include thee Music Videos with Crowe singing, trailers & TV spots for the film, Postcards From Providence making of featurette and Crowe/Scott promo for the film.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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