Monday, July 30, 2007

Movie Review: Match Point

Watched Woody Allen’s latest on DVD last night. It’s good film; the old man still makes very good films. And it’s entirely comedy free (on purpose). Like Annie Hall (1976), the setting is the world of educated, yet neurotic; financially comfortable, yet wanting social urbanites. Match Point (2005) happens to be set in London instead of Allen’s beloved NYC but he still absolutely nails the posh dialogue.

Match Point also has Annie Hall’s quirky meet-cute scenario; relationship navel-gazing; and a love that initially blossoms but ultimately fades. Unlike Annie Hall, there’s a gruesome shotgun blast double homicide.

I don’t recall if neurotic Alvy Singer ever filed down a shotgun while laying in wait to murder Annie. Maybe it was one of the Annie Hall deleted scenes. I'll have to check the DVD for extras.

So Match Point can be found in your video store’s drama section. The themes it explores include:

Luck - How we may delude ourselves into thinking that hard work and intuitive goodness determines what we achieve in life, but how so much is just dumb, blind luck. Luck in tennis is the metaphor here for luck in life.

Class – The main character is poor Irish tennis-pro but works hard to move up. He’s well read, appreciates fine culture and through chance at the opera meets a lovely girl and marries into her wealthy London family. He’s set up for life but jeopardizes it all for a torrid affair with a smokin’ hot sultress played convincingly (method acting, perhaps?) by Scarlett Johansson. The cinematography is so good, you practically taste the sultry temptation.

Destructive Desire – I found it a bit awkward to watch a hot adulterous affair with my significant other. The tennis pro’s caught in a web of lies and keeps spinning. I’m on the couch stuffing my mouth with popcorn, avoiding eye contact. He wants to keep his comfortable life but wants to have the passionate woman too. I don’t want to get punched in the arm.

As a man, I felt vicariously guilty. Especially since I’d so have a hot adulterous affair with Scarlett Johansson. So if you’re reading this right now…[makes “call me” hand sign]. I feel guilty already.

Justice – The plot recalls Allen’s previous dark drama Crimes and Misdemeanors and that Russian guy’s Crime and Punishment. Reasonable circumstances get out of control and the tennis-pro reaches a morbid conclusion that should not be reached.

In a dream, he muses:

It would be fitting if I were apprehended... and punished. At least there would be some small sign of justice - some small measure of hope for the possibility of meaning.

On some level, he wants to get caught. And he was sloppy in execution, almost inviting his condemnation. The universe remains indifferent.

Plot - The plotting is commendably even and not to spoil the surprise ending, but...Harry Potter dies in the end. Also, Rosebud is a sled.

Summary - Match Point is pretty darn good. It's been hailed as both a critical and commercial success and heralds a welcome return to form for Woody Allen. Critics rate it 4.5 out of 5 possible asian stepchild brides.

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