Eye For Film >> Movies >> Match Point (2005) Film Review
Reviewed by: Chris
Something of a turning point in the career of the director, perhaps. After being ignored in his home country for many years, this new film by Woody Allen has already been nominated at the Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson).
It's a big change for Allen. Gone is the familiar Manhattan skyline; he doesn't appear once; there are none of his stuttering lines; NY is exchanged for London's South Bank and the even the comedy is very between the lines, with nods to Dostoevsky and La Traviata.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Chris, an ex tennis star, now making a living as a coach at an exclusive club. There he becomes friends with wealthy socialite Tom and ends up marrying his sister (the lovely Emily Mortimer), except he has become smitten with Tom's fiance (Johansson), a failing American actress. Helped into the English upper classes, Chris is loath to relinquish his lifestyle, even when he becomes bored with his wife. This is comedy in the Shakespearean sense, the whole story revolving around the importance of luck, yet it soon escalates into an equally compelling tragedy.
There are few recognisable Woody Allen characteristics - possibly the author's detachment from his subject matter - and he makes the mistake of letting one of his characters call her father "Papa" (I doubt if anyone in posh English society does that these days), but it does not quite descend to the out-and-out thriller we might have anticipated from the trailer. The film retains its aloofness to become a meditation on the importance luck plays in the lives of everyone and whether it is more important to be "lucky" than to be "good".
The eroticism between Rhys Meyers and Johansson, who turns in yet another outstanding performance, is unusual for Allen, but, like the ensuing violence, is never allowed to detract from the cerebral content.
This is a thought-provoking study, although the question it poses is not exactly earth shattering.Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2006