I thoroughly enjoyed this intoxicating film which I agree has its faults, however it succeeded in its core themes of love,friendship and beauty as being central to a well lived life.
I feel Crowe does a good job as Max, an arrogant and ruthless bonds dealer who inherits a château from his Uncle Henry(Finney). Initially interested in how much money this can make, circumstances necessitate a longer stay whereby Max begins to recall his many enjoyable Summers spent with his Uncle at the Provençal château.
Marion Cotillard provides the love interest as the beautiful and tempestuous Dark French girl and young Aussie star Abbie Cornish contrasts as the fair blond Californian beauty who is Henry's illegitimate daughter. Both perform well though I know Cornish is much more capable than this role requires.
The movie is a little uneven at times as Max learns his lesson on what is truly important in life.Sometimes the comedy is light, sometimes slapstick, and all this juxtaposed with some sentimentality and more serious moments. Most of the characters are contrived from Max through to the peasant French verniers. However in spite of this the story unfolds in a believable way and the photography is stunning as you would expect of the Province and Scott.The women are gorgeous, the wine looks delicious and the food makes you salivate. It succeeds in its attempt to seduce and makes one a little sad to return to suburbia as I did.
Finally,on Crowe.I feel there are many critics who love to pan Crowe. It has become the fashion.How he missed out on a nomination for Cinderella Man is beyond me.(Though he would not have beaten Hoffman or Phoenix). He is obviously still anathema in Hollywood and to many critics a man they love to hate because he is simply not liked.One critic criticised him in this film because he was unlikeable but surely that was the point! At least he is an actor who acts. I mean Hugh Grant plays Hugh Grant and Tom Cruise plays Tom Cruise.But with Crowe, he always plays his character.And a good job he does once more.
All in all 7 1/2 out of 10.And definitely more delicious on the big screen.