Match Point

Review by Danny Miller

Directed by

Woody Allen

Starring

Emily Mortimer Jonathan Rhys Meyers Scarlett Johansson

Anticipation.

Woody Allen – great. Melinda & Melinda – not so great

Enjoyment.

Starts poorly, but slowly becomes more engrossing.

In Retrospect.

Way too far removed from typical London living to resonate. Woody, write about some ordinary folk please.

Match Point is enjoyable, if lacking in a little charm. Woody can do better than this, and we know it.

“Men seem to think I’d be something very… special” are words that fall easily from the lips of Nola, (Scarlett Johansson) as she seductively ebbs further from sobriety. It’s possible to forgive a young man like Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) for thinking of straying from his wife for such a woman, but much harder to sympathise with his motives before the end.

Rhys-Meyers is excellent in Match Point. A poor tennis pro caught up in the lives of wealthy Londoners the Hewetts, he quickly progresses from family friend to family member, marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer) but always with one eye on his brother-in-law’s American fiancée. Nola is the sexual thrill that Chris’ wife just can’t offer. No great shakes there.

In fact there’s very little at all to doubt, question or be surprised by in the opening half of Woody Allen’s first foray into London. Worse, some of the dialogue is nauseating, and the lives of these young, rich kids are so difficult to connect with (“Do try the caviar!”, “Chris never goes anywhere without his driver!”) that the non-millionaires in the cheap seats might lose any sense of empathy for them all together.

Brian Cox helps distract attention from this tedious youthful affluence, shooting pheasants, reprimanding his wife for having one too many G ‘n’ Ts and patting people on the back reassuringly when they need more money.

Ultimately, Match Point’s rapid plot-development is its greatest strength, and Woody certainly packs a lot in. There’s great story-telling here, and as the film progresses, it becomes increasingly absorbing. It’s unfortunate, then, that some distracting casting mars the film’s otherwise excellent final act, with several faces familiar to British audiences popping up in unsuitable and unconvincing roles.

Match Point is enjoyable, if lacking in a little charm. Johansson’s Nola is without real spark, Emily Mortimer fawns convincingly and Ryhs-Meyers seems to enjoy being consistently broody. But Woody can do better than this, and we know it.

Published 5 Jan 2006

Tags: Woody Allen

Anticipation.

Woody Allen – great. Melinda & Melinda – not so great

Enjoyment.

Starts poorly, but slowly becomes more engrossing.

In Retrospect.

Way too far removed from typical London living to resonate. Woody, write about some ordinary folk please.

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