Match Point
I’ll do whatever you want.

Theatrical Release Date: 01/20/2006
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer

Let’s get some air cleared before heading to the review. I don’t like Woody Allen films. There isn’t one I’ve yet to watch and really like, although I appreciate that there is talent behind his work. I just don’t do well with his neurotic New York films, I’m from the other coast.

That being said, writer/director Allen’s “Match Point” is pretty good.

Set in London, it’s about Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), who is given the opportunity to become part of the social elite. He befriends Tom Hewitt (Matthew Goode) who is the silver spoon sucking son of business mogul Brian Cox and his wife, Penelope Wilton. They have a daughter (Emily Mortimer) who quickly falls for Chris. Things are going fine until we meet Nola, the sexy American actress (Scarlett Johansson) who is playing a sexy American actress and unfortunately for Chris, engaged to his new best friend Tom.

Got all that? Good.

As one can tell from the trailer and can guess from the plot, the movie deals with Chris and Nola becoming entangled. The film deals with three major themes; fate vs. luck, adultery, and to what lengths a person will go to protect their way of life.

In weaving these themes together, I think Allen has succeeded. There is a palpable tension created by Chris and Nola’s actions. However, I have some reservations before giving Woody his first nod of approval from moi.

First, the movie is supposed to be in London. If it wasn’t for the majority of the actors having accents and a number of exterior shots, this film could have taken place in Manhattan. The dialogue sounds like it’s from the upper West Side, not just off the Thames River.

Second, the film has an identity problem. Is it an complex adultery tale or is it a thriller?

And third, I really wanted to punch Rhys-Meyers in the mouth.

This isn’t just because of his pretty boy looks. His character is handed a dream lifestyle on a silver platter, but that isn’t enough for him. Emily Mortimer throws herself at him, and that isn’t enough for him. I’m sure part of it is jealousy but really, his character is such an idiot to risk all of this that it’s practically impossible to be on his side.

The only real villain in the movie is Chris Wilton. The entire Hewitt family is loving and good. Even Nola is like an unsuspecting bystander in comparison and usually in these tales, there is some give and take between the adulterers. While I appreciate not going with the usual formula, this version was a bit unpalatable for me.

The film toes the line between genres unsatisfactorily and Allen seems to have contracted Spielbergitis, giving the audience multiple endings. He would have been much better served wrapping things up a bit quicker. I was getting antsy near the end of the film.

While many critics are hailing this as Allen’s triumphant return to making good films after the likes of “Small Time Crooks” and “Melinda and Melinda”, I’m only going to give “Match Point” the passing grade of 3 out of 5. The performances are excellent but that’s just not enough.

And there you go, the best review an Allen film will get from me so far. If it’s enough to get you into theaters, don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you like Allen’s films, you’ll probably like this one. I guess you just have to trust your gut on this one.