Due to the astounding success of their previous film, "Gladiator", anytime director Ridley Scott (Alien, Black Hawk Down) and Russell Crowe (Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind) make a film together there are very high expectations. I don't think that this film reached many people's expectations and that is too bad. It is a film that has neither the scope nor the aspirations that "Gladiator" did but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is meant to be a different type of film for these two big players and it is a good attempt. I know I am in the minority when I say that. The film reminded me of films that were made years ago in that it had that wide-eyed innocence about it and a harkening back to the good old days of childhood. It also had a good message about how our society has probably devolved into a workaholic, money first one that does not bode well for our personal relationships. We throw everything aside, even family, to get ahead in life and we lose what is truly important to ourselves.
The film also suffered due to, despite his best attempts, the typecasting of Russell Crowe. After his roles in "A Beautiful Mind", "The Insider" and ""L.A. Confidential" we all expect Russell to be about strength and depth. Well, this film is certainly a change of pace, was not really expected and as a result was underappreciated. Russell tries a romantic, occasionally comedic role and we did not get it. It seems as if the public does not want to see him do that and it is too bad because the man is talented enough to do almost anything. It is alright if these two men make a film purely for entertainment sake, isn't it?
Another highlight for me was the cinematography by Philippe Le Sourd (worked on several French films). It is incredibly beautiful and immediately made me want to go to Provence. The colours were crisp and the scenery luxuriously shot. It was like a travel spot for the area.
Widely successful, but largely hated, investment expert, Max Skinner (Russell Crowe) receives news that his estranged beloved Uncle Henry (Albert Finney – Big Fish, Erin Brockovich) has died. Surprisingly even though they have not spoken for many years, Henry has left his entire estate to Max. Max finds himself having to go to France to clear up the business of the inheritance. Once there he discovers his past and it all comes back to him, every pleasant moment of it. He begins to remember how happy he was growing up at his uncle's winery. Despite all this Max is insistent on selling the place, so he contacts his best friend and real estate agent, Charlie Willis (Tom Hollander – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pride & Prejudice – 2005), in order that he find a buyer.
Staying in France in order to clean up the winery, Max gets caught up in the past and an elusive woman named Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard – A Very Long Engagement, La Vie En Rose) and the possible daughter of his late uncle, Christie (Abbie Cornish – Candy). His hands are full with these two and he has trouble prying himself away in order to return to London and work, much to his assistant Gemma's (Archie Panjabi – The Constant Gardener, Bend It Like Beckham) chagrin.
-Postcards From Provence
-Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott promo
-Trailers for A Good Year, Kingdom of Heaven, The Illusionist, Master and Commander, and Sideways