“A Change of Scenery to Change Your Heart”: The Essence of “A Good Year”. : the plot and meaning of the film, content, explanation of the ending, similar films.
Country: USA, UK
Genre: Drama, melodrama, romantic comedy
Year of production: 2006
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Actors: Russell Crowe, Abbie Cornish, Marion Cotillard, Albert Finney, Freddie Highmore
tagline: “Sometimes it takes a change of scenery to have a change of heart.”
Awards and nominations: Critics Choice Movie Awards (2007) – nomination “Best Young Actor” (Freddie Highmore); Satellite Awards (2006) – Best Cinematography (Philippe Le Sourde)
The slogan of the film “A Good Year” it means: “Sometimes it takes a change of scenery to change your heart.” This is what happened in the film: being in a place familiar from childhood, the main character was able to understand himself and determine what is really important to him. The plot and meaning of the film “A Good Year” is in a person’s awareness of his place in life and in the choice between the spiritual and material worlds.
What is the movie about
The first minutes of A Good Year introduce the main character, Max Skinner (Freddie Highmore), as a child. In Provence, he plays chess with his uncle Henry Skinner (Albert Finney), who introduces him to the taste of good wine and teaches him the values of life. Taking advantage of the moment, Max swaps the pieces on the board. Returning, Henry sees the deception and asks the boy if he wants to tell him something. The nephew, looking into his eyes with a challenge and realizing that his machinations have been noticed, makes the last move and wins the game.
Russell Crowe played the role of Max Skinner. Frame from the film.
Further, the action of the melodrama “Good Year” moves many years ahead. Skinner, a successful stock trader, learns of his uncle’s death and decides to sell the estate he inherited with the help of his friend and real estate agent Charlie Willis (Tom Hollander).
Max arrives in Provence, inspects the estate and remembers how he spent time here. The film shows him playing tennis with his uncle, losing and getting angry, but Henry explains that defeats are important too, because one learns from them, not from victories. He says that you need to be able to lose with dignity, but you should not get used to this, because it is more pleasant to win.
The next day, Skinner is driving his car and is distracted and nearly runs over Fanny Chenal (Marion Cotillard), the owner of a local restaurant. The girl drives off the road and falls off her bike, and Max, without noticing this, leaves. After a conversation with a notary, he informs the winemaker Francis Duflo (Didier Bourdon), who has worked with Henry Skinner all his life, about his desire to sell the estate and angers the interlocutor.
Max needs to fly to England, where he is waiting for a meeting with the boss, Sir Nigel. Before leaving, he takes pictures of the house and inadvertently finds himself in a pool, from which he cannot get out. Fanny Chenal drives past, spots his car, stops and finds Skinner. He asks her to bring a ladder, but the girl, wanting revenge, turns on the water. The pool is filling up. Max gets out, but the plane leaves without him. In anger, the boss suspends him from trading for a week.
Frame from the film.
Max stays at the estate and prepares it for sale. He promises Duflo that he will make a deal on the condition that the vintner keep the place. In exchange for this, Francis agrees to help with the repairs. While taking care of the estate, Skinner communicates with the people around him and regularly recalls how he spent time here. In one scene, a boy helps his uncle sign checks, deftly imitating his handwriting.
Skinner discovers that the wine his uncle made is of poor quality. He requests a report on the condition of the vineyards and learns that they have no value. Christy Roberts (Abbie Courtnish), a young American, arrives and reveals that she is the illegitimate daughter of Henry Skinner. Max finds out from the notary that illegitimate children in France have the same rights as legitimate relatives, which means that Christie can announce her desire to become Henry’s heiress. However, the girl only wants to know more about her father.
In the cellar of the estate, Max finds an unfamiliar wine of high quality without a label. Christy, who understands the intricacies of winemaking, reports that it is a legend of Provence, but its producer is unknown to anyone. She also points out that the bottle is sealed with the same cork as Henry Skinner’s wine.
Max meets Fanny in the city, helps her in a restaurant and persuades her on a date. He brings a bottle of wine found in the cellar and the girl confirms its high price. The heroes spend the night together, but part ways in the morning: Skinner offers Shenal to move to London, but she refuses. Max says that this place does not fit into his life, Fanny objects that it is his life that does not fit into their places.
Max has doubts about the decision to sell the house, but nevertheless signs the documents prepared by Charlie. Duflo informs him that the wine found in the cellar was produced by Henry. The report on the vineyards is false: the calculation was that Skinner, finding that they were worthless, would not sell the estate. Previously, Max was not told the value of the vines because they are illegal, and also because Henry Skinner loved his nephew, but did not want to leave him the house and vineyards because of the kind of person he has become and because he does not appreciate the simple pleasures of life. This is the key to why he did not have time to make a decision and draw up a will.
Russell Crowe as Max, Marion Cotillard as Fanny Chenal. Frame from the film.
Max remembers his uncle and his advice: if you find something worthy, you need to save it. Looking through the archives, he finds a photo of his uncle with a woman from California. Exactly the same picture Christy showed him. The point of this scene in A Good Year is that the girl is indeed Henry’s daughter. Skinner understands this. Next, we see how he is about to write something in green ink on a piece of paper.
Christie leaves Provence. Skinner gives her a parting book that Roberts had been reading at the estate. In it, the girl finds Henry’s will written in green ink, leaving her the estate as a legacy. The idea of this scene is that it was written by Max, who had excellent command of Henry Skinner’s handwriting. The document helps to protest the transaction for the sale of the house.
Skinner returns to London. In Sir Nigel’s office, he sees a painting by Van Gogh and receives an explanation that it is a reproduction, and the real painting is in storage. The boss offers a deal: compensation or partnership in the company. Max takes time to think.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Good Year” is that the main character discovers that he no longer needs work as a trader and his former life. Back in Sir Nigel’s office, he asks the boss when he looks at the real painting? The key to these words is that Skinner says goodbye to his career and chooses money and a new life.
At the end of the picture “Good Year” Max comes to Provence again. He settles with Fanny in the estate. Christy also lives with them, working with Duflo to continue the Henry Skinner case.
The meaning of the film
Ridley Scott, director of The Good Year, lived in Provence for a long time. In an interview, he said that he had long planned to shoot a film in this region. He was recommended the writer Peter Mayle, whose books are set in the south of France. Scott shared with him a description of his ideas, according to which Mail wrote the book “Good Year”. The result was significantly different from what the director wanted to get, so subsequently the work, although it was taken as the basis of the film, was significantly changed when writing the script.
The essence of the film “Good Year” is well conveyed by its slogan, the translation of which into Russian sounds like this: “Sometimes you need a change of scenery to change your heart.” The analysis of the picture helps to better understand its meaning.
Max Skinner is a cold, calculating and cynical stock trader who revels in being both respected and hated at the same time. Having received an inheritance, he comes to Provence and, having been forced to stay here for a week, reconsiders his life and values during this time.
The protagonist constantly remembers how he lived as a child in the estate. Despite the fact that he did not see his uncle for many years afterwards, it is clear from the content of the scenes that tell about the events of the past that he treated Henry very warmly. All the memories are good, their interpretation shows that the uncle taught his nephew many things that were useful to him in life.
At the estate, Max begins to realize what is truly dear to him. If in the first minutes of his arrival he was ready, without hesitation, to sell the house and return to his usual life, then at the end of the film, in the scene of a conversation with Charlie, the agent, he is no longer sure of the correctness of his actions, but still signs papers confirming the deal . Doubts continue to plague him and help change his mind when he realizes that Christy is indeed Henry’s daughter. At that moment, he realizes that he made a mistake and forges a will that allows him to protest the sale of the house.
Frame from the film.
The explanation for the scene with Sir Nigel and his offer of partnership is that it is here that Max finally realizes that, despite the grandiose prospects, he no longer wants to work as a trader, because life is passing him by. This is the hidden meaning of a brief conversation about Van Gogh: a copy hangs in the office, and the original is locked in storage, where no one will ever see it, real art.
What matters in explaining the idea of the film “Good Year” is the phrase uttered by Gemma, Max’s assistant, to Sir Nigel: “Look at him.” She says it when she advises Skinner to accept an offer to become a partner in the company. By these words she means: – “Look what heights he has reached.” Max repeats this phrase: “Yes, look at him,” but puts a completely different hidden meaning into it. He says that the boss has only material values on his mind, he does not see anything else around. The explanation for the film’s ending is that Max doesn’t want to be that person anymore.
The plot of the film “A Good Year” shows that, having changed his place of residence and the people around him for just a week, the main character realized that money, status and other benefits are not the most important thing, because the spiritual world is much more important. As a result, he revised his views on life and found a new meaning in it.
Frame from the film.
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