Match Point

Movie Review #707


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Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution
Country: UK – Luxembourg
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Woody Allen. Produced by Letty Aronson, Lucy Darwin, and Gareth Wiley. Written by Woody Allen.

Rated R by the MPAA – infrequent sexual material. Runs 2 hours 4 minutes (Turkish TV version runs 9 minutes shorter; Finnish theatrical version runs 2 minutes longer). Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2005; at San Sebastián Film Festival on September 24, 2005; at Vienna International Film Festival on October 14, 2005; at Savannah Film and Video Festival on November 2, 2005; at DaKino International Film Festival on November 22, 2005; and at Film by the Sea Film Festival on December 13, 2005. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on December 28, 2005; and in San Francisco, California on January 4, 2006. Wide release in the UK on January 6, 2006; and in the USA on January 20, 2006.

Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Emily Mortimer, and Scarlett Johansson. Also starring Mary Hegarty, Miranda Raison, Margaret Tyzack, Ewen Bremner, and James Nesbitt. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Alex Argenti, Morne Botes, Michelle Lima, Dawn Murphy, and Leonard Silver.

Cinemaniac Reviews four stars

I’ve seen quite a lot of Woody Allen. Almost every year for the past forty-eight years, he’s made a movie. To keep it simple, I’ll just say I’ve seen his 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th films; his 9th through 16th films; his 18th, 20th, 36th, 37th, 39th, and every film from his 41st through his 44th (his most recent). I’ve always considered Mr. Allen to be a comedian. Sure, I’ve seen him lean away from the wry humor, but the results seemed to be lacking the pleasant they would have had with humor. That was “Another Woman”, his 18th. Double that number. Now we’re at his 36th: “Match Point”, which is where I have to think again. Of course, I still consider him a comedian, especially when what makes a drama even this serious a winner is the wry humor peppered throughout dialogue. But just that would make “Match Point” a plainly unusual Woody Allen movie. It’s unusual, and, let’s not forget, surprising.

“Match Point” is a grave, dark drama. The plot could be seen is soapy, if it were only dealt with that way. The tone is easily more noirish, making for a more cinematic, flavorful and artful approach to the tale than any other addition to the director’s soapology. In ways that “Hannah and Her Sisters” was similar to “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, and “Midnight in Paris” to “To Rome with Love”, “Match Point” feels like a companion piece to Woody’s next project, “Scoop”. Especially being that “Scoop” was one of the worst I’ve seen from the director, and “Match Point” one of the best, this one beats its followup sixty, love.

“Match Point” is a dark movie. An extremely gripping, but nonetheless dark one. Woody Allen has claimed this his favorite of any film he’s made, and it’s understandable. Of any semi-autobiographical account, this one’s the most honest. Allen’s reliance on character development connects us with the characters, if not always in the best of ways. The protagonist is a brutal hate target from the very beginning; we just don’t know it until he grows to a macroscopic size, until he has an ongoing affair, until that affair becomes impossible to balance with his marriage.

Scarlett Johansson plays the femme fatale in this urban moral conquest. I don’t want to go with this being her role of a lifetime until I see more of her, but she’s cast perfectly. Her conversations with Jonathan Rhys Meyers echoes those of Mariel Hemingway and Woody Allen in “Manhattan”. Again, that movie just wasn’t such a dramatic height. “Match Point” is quite a tense drama. This is suspenseful and mysterious. Not quite the expectations of the director, especially while he’s still keeping his love for the arts omnipresent. What more can I say? It’s thoroughly and dynamically unpredictable.

Tomorrow’s Review




9 thoughts on “Match Point

  1. I like the way he sets up the tension for the film, but I am not too convinced by the final 20 minutes. There are some great performances holding it together, but there are a couple of mannered stinkers in there too – James Nesbitt appears to be in a different film than everyone else!

    • James Nesbitt…now who did he play, remind me?

      I really like the last 20 minutes actually. My mother and sister, both who HATE Woody Allen, had to do other things halfway through the finale when I was watching this. They were dying to know how it ended.

      • He plays the police investigator who speculates that the plot seems an unlikely story, but soon dismisses his own doubts.

        I think it sets it up wonderfully … like Great Gatsby with a murder plot, but he doesn’t ‘get’ the English idiom. The incredibly posh people seem daft (in the same way that the working class people in CASSANDRA’S DREAM are).

        I love Woody (last year I set myself a challenge to watch all of his films) but his ‘British films’ seem incredibly rushed and incomplete.

        I agree that it is an intriguing set-up, its a pity that it never really lives up to its promise.

        • I can definitely see where you’re coming from, and yeah I kind of thought the police officer was overlooking something. Then I thought, “Wait no this would actually, logically happen (the decision on the police’s part)”. For me, Woody Allen made a VERY convincing tale about how a guy got off VERY lucky.

          Though you gotta admit. That ending? Damn depressing.

  2. Possibly my favorite Woody Allen flick, even if it is very serious. Even then though, it didn’t bother me since it worked very well with the kind of tone Allen was so clearly going for. Good review.

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