Oscar®-winner Russell Crowe reunites with “Gladiator” director Ridley Scott in A GOOD YEAR, a Fox 2000 Pictures presentation of a Scott Free production. London-based investment expert Max Skinner (Crowe) moves to Provence to sell a small vineyard he has inherited from his late uncle. Max reluctantly settles into what ultimately becomes an intoxicating new chapter in his life, as he comes to realize that life is meant to be savored.
A GOOD YEAR is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Peter Mayle. (Mayle and Ridley Scott, who are longtime friends, together came up with the idea for the novel.) Scott produces from a screenplay by Marc Klein. The film also stars the esteemed Albert Finney as Max’s late Uncle Henry, who imparts wisdom to his young nephew; Marion Cotillard (“A Very Long Engagement”) as a café owner who catches Max’s eye; Abbie Cornish (“Sommersault”) as Max’s supposed long-lost cousin, who may hold the vineyard’s title rights; Tom Hollander (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”) as his best friend; and Freddie Highmore (“Finding Neverland”) as the young Max.
Confident and cocky, headstrong and handsome, Max Skinner is a successful London banker who specializes in trading bonds. A financial barracuda on the banks of the Thames, Max devours the competition in his efforts to conquer the European market. His latest conquest has netted a tidy seven-figure profit, much to the chagrin of his Saville Row-draped rivals. Max’s triumph is in perfect keeping with his philosophy: winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!
Soon thereafter, Max receives word from France alerting him to sad news: his elderly Uncle Henry has passed away. Max, Henry’s closest blood relative, is the sole beneficiary of his estate, which includes a Provençal chateau and vineyard, La Siroque, where Henry cultivated grapes for over thirty years.
Max travels to the chateau where he spent his boyhood summers vacationing with his eccentric uncle, whom he hasn’t seen or written to in years. While Max tends to the legal affairs of his inheritance, he is suspended from his firm, pending an investigation into his questionable bond transaction.
With his future in London in flux, Max reluctantly begins settling into life at the chateau. He reunites with the chateau’s longtime vigneron, Francis Duflot (still tending the vines after three decades), whom Max remembers from his boyhood visits. Duflot’s exuberant wife, Ludivine, the estate’s housekeeper, warmly welcomes Max back.
Max is uncertain as to whether life in the South of France suits him. He rings up his best friend, London realtor Charlie Willis, to inquire as to what a small chateau and winery like La Siroque would command on the current market. Charlie advises Max that small wineries with a good product can bring several million dollars, as boutique wine, made in small batches, is the rage in wine shops. It’s money in the bank for Max should he lose his job.
As Max fondly embraces the memories of summers past (spent with a man whose wisdom and philosophy helped Max chart his successful career) while contemplating a cloudy future, a complication arises with the sudden arrival of a determined, twentysomething California girl, Christie Roberts. Christie, a Napa Valley native, claims to be the illegitimate daughter of the deceased uncle. The revelation, if true, makes her Max’s cousin and, according to French law, the beneficiary of La Siroque.
Suspecting Christie may be a fraud, Max questions her about her past while bickering with her over the fate of the vineyard, whose plonk (as the French define bad wine) rivals the worst vinegar imaginable. Max, who has tasted La Siroque’s awful vin de pays, also finds some other bottles in Uncle Henry’s cellar bearing the name Le Coin Perdu (‘the lost corner’). This mysterious, legendary vin de garage has fetched thousands per bottle on the black market for years, according to the fetching local cafe owner, Fanny Chenal, with whom Max has become smitten.
Where does the wine come from, and why is Duflot so insistent on staying at La Siroque whatever the vineyard’s fate? And, what about some unusual vines discovered on the property by Christie, which the crusty vintner claims are experimental in nature, and a renowned oenologue has deemed unworthy?
Max’s memories and the passage of time bring forth emotions and feelings he thought were long lost, and afford him a new appreciation of his late Uncle Henry’s philosophy on life – and on life in Provence: “There’s nowhere else in the world where one can keep busy doing so little, yet enjoy it so much!”
TM and ©2006 Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.
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