Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Latauro is stunned by Crowe's performance in A GOOD YEAR...

The worst performance ever by an A-list actor? Latauro reviews A GOOD YEAR

Okay, so the first five minutes are pretty promising. Freddie Highmore and Albert Finney are both really good, the dialogue is mostly good, and the scene works quite well at setting up these characters and the world they live in.

Unfortunately, it's pretty much downhill from the moment we see Russell Crowe's face. Oh, I'd love to make a joke here about how it's all because of him and his face, but I'm sorry to say it's not a joke at all. Russell Crowe systematically destroys any chance this film may have had of being good by giving the worst leading performance by an A list actor that I can remember seeing.

It give me no joy to write this. I don't have any great love for Rusty, but I don't have any great hatred for him, and despite writing for the internet, I don't get a kick out of tearing people to shreds.

I'm reminded of two quotes I'm going to completely and utterly get wrong. The first misquote is from Robert Altman, who said something along the lines of "98% of your film is casting". The second misquote is from Theodore Sturgeon, who said "98% of everything is crap". Oh, Ridley Scott, how could you not see this? How could you not see that casting Russell Crowe as a thoroughly English gentleman who enjoys the finer things in life whilst working at the very top of trades and commodities and so on, doing multi-billion dollar deals from his high rise.

Russ just can't pull it off. And it's not the accent. I mean, he can't do the accent (it's English, for Christ's sake, it's the bloody vanilla of accents!), but it's not that. There's no character here. There's one written here, a moderately interesting -- if cliched -- character, but that's destroyed by Crowe's inconsistencies. There's no through-line here, no overall person. There's the scene where he's supposed to play uppercrust English, so he does so in the most obvious way possible. Then there's the scene where he's suddenly a man of the land. Then he has a couple too many drinks and is suddenly the town souse. Normally, these would be different aspects of the same character, but Crowe plays them as if there's one way to play drunk, one way to play a man of the land, one way to play refined, and all he's doing is flipping channels.

I'd be interested to know what the film would be like if Crowe hadn't ruined it. I suspect it would have remained a boring, cliche-ridden tale of a man who must be reminded of the real things in life, and learns a lot about blah blah blah. If there's one thing LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE taught us this year, it's that having a cliched premise isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you need to know what to do with it to make it fresh. In its defense, A GOOD YEAR tries a few things, but they don't work out that well. The incest plotline is all well and good, but it feels like a screenwriter acknowledging a plotline from a book for the sake of the fans. I don't have access to the net as I write this, so I have no idea whether it's based on a book or not, but I'm positive it was, based purely on this story element.

Cultural stereotypes are a staple of the film. The fat French grump who cares only for his grapes and his little dog. The French waiters with no manners. The boorish couple from the US that wants ranch dressing on everything and demands that people speak American to them. All the proper English elites who stutter when talking to women and act in every conversation as if their pinky finger is up in the air. French waiters may be rude and American tourists may be wankers, but if you have to show it to us for the fiftieth time, you need to find a fresh angle. This feels like you've loaded up the Stereotype Template in Final Draft and haven't bothered to change a word.

Once we finally reached the ending (which, by the way, has the most random and non-sequitorial tag before the end credits begin, leaving my mouth on the floor from the incredulity of its existence), I found myself pondering the title. It was half right: it did feel like I was in there for a frigging year.

Peace out,


Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus