In the second of his five collaborations with Scott, Russell Crowe stars as an all-work-and-no-play London investment banker who learns he is the sole inheritor of his late uncle’s Provence vineyard. When he travels to France with the intention of quickly unloading the property, he meet-cutes a spirited café owner (a pre-La Vie en Rose Marion Cotillard) as well as a backpacking wine expert (Abbie Cornish) who claims to be his uncle’s long lost daughter. Needless to say, he won’t be returning home anytime soon. Adapted from the novel by British expat Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence), this lighthearted, change-of-life romantic drama was a marked departure from the norm for both its director and star, but deserved far better than the indifferent reception it received from critics and audiences. Crowe and Cotillard are both in fine form here, while Scott films the French wine country as ecstatically as he did the Dordogne some 30 years before in The Duellists.
“The film is about the magic of letting a place get to you–changing your rhythms and thought patterns–and it has the glow of a second week at the beach, when you finally shake off your old life. The story line is utterly predictable and utterly beside the point; Scott and Crowe are after the ripeness of atmosphere. So the star's performance hangs on the film like grapes on the vine; the way Crowe plays it, Max's delight in financial piracy has merely been diverted toward the things one can touch: soil, the curve of a bottle or of a woman's shoulder. If Sideways was about life's bitter aftertaste, A Good Year is about savoring the first swallow.”
—Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
“Crowe gets to make jokes and wisecracks that show off his boyishly mischievous comic timing…In A Good Year, Crowe uses muscles he forgot he had. The stretching does him a world of good, and somehow, it even expands the movie around him.”
—Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com