A Good Year (12A) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

A rich man's indulgence. Ridley Scott plainly couldn't resist filming his fellow ex-adman Peter Mayle's lightweight tale of wine and wonga, but he ought to have resisted casting Russell Crowe as his lead. He plays a ruthless London bond trader who flies south to investigate the Provençal chateau and vineyard he's just inherited from a late uncle (Albert Finney) whose cheery presence he recalls in flashbacks to idyllic summer holidays. However well he served Scott on Gladiator, Crowe doesn't have the chops to convince as a devil-may-care English wit, looks awkward with comedy and is on a hiding to nothing with the laugh-free script. There's a hint that the wine-and-romance plot will squeeze out juice left over from Sideways, but it's not even that clever. Whereas poor old Miles toiled through a midlife crisis to a kind of redemption, Crowe enters the story as an insufferably self-satisfied boor - and departs it unchanged. A Good Year is basically a long Renault ad with a gigantic bit of miscasting.