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Match Point /

Rated: R

Starring: Brian Cox, Matthew Goode, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Directed by: Woody Allen

Produced by: Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley
Written by: Woody Allen
Distributor: DreamWorks Pictures


Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in DreamWorks Pictures' Match Point

Emily Mortimer in DreamWorks Pictures' Match Point

Scarlett Johansson in DreamWorks Pictures' Match Point

     Woody, Woody, Woody. You know I’ve enjoyed all your more recent fare, especially earlier this year’s Melinda and Melinda, despite not nearly being blown out of the water by it in the same way as say, Annie Hall. So, naturally, when I heard the news that Match Point represented “the resurrection” of your career, I awaited it with anticipation. Now, the wait is over, and after seeing it, I think it speaks to the magnitude of just how much people have been tempted into finding liking in your work again.


     Match Point is hardly a masterpiece, although it isn’t a bad movie. Allen, in his usual writer/director seat, really breaks no new ground in both of the worlds that he chooses to explore: infidelity and guilt. As for the former, he indulges in boring conventions, building a “keep it a secret” line of suspense. The latter, on the other hand, fails in quite a peculiar way. Allen many times foreshadows the fact that the movie will take a turn and become something similar to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment—in one scene, the protagonist is actually reading a copy of it—but never did I imagine that he would simply take all of that work’s ideas and apply them to his own. All films, in one way or another, borrow ideas from classic literature, but with such direct references to C&P, I’m not exactly sure that Allen the Writer was motivated to pen anything in the realm of originality or unpredictability. However, this isn’t to say that he fails in the Director’s Chair; considering the fact that it is often as insipid as it is, Match Point was assembled rather artfully.


     The asset that keeps Match Point’s head above water—other than Allen’s directorial merit—is its fine European cast (the Americans in the movie fare much worse). Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays Chris in the film’s lead-role, and Emily Mortimer his wife, Chloe. Both are terrific, especially Mortimer, who never ceases to bring new depth to her role as the details of the plot unravel. Before long into their marriage, Chris begins seeing Nola (Scarlett Johansson, who is surprisingly out-of-her-element here), the ex-girlfriend of his brother-in-law (the terrific Brian Cox). She becomes obsessed with him. When Nola is impregnated as a result of one of their many closet flings, Chris runs into an especially sticky situation: she begs him to leave Chloe and help raise her child, but he doesn’t have it in himself to do so. A chain of rather predictable events—which seem inherently obvious if you’ve read Crime and Punishment— follow thereafter.


    Had this been the first time that we’d seen everything that Allen threw into the blender of Match Point’s script, it likely would’ve been exactly what it was when Dostoevsky originally wrote it in 1866: riveting. Likewise, had he put more thought into making a more original picture, the end result could’ve been more powerful (especially given his notable aforementioned directing talent). In truth, it’s not really even the fact that Match Point is identical to Crime and Punishment thematically that bugs me: it’s that it seems to not have a brain of his own. In essence, Allen’s ideas are only one notch more sophisticated than those of the average Hollywood remake, if only because of the facts that his source material was more enlightening and he managed to change the rising action into a fable about adultery. Thank God for convicting acting, because if it weren’t for it, Match Point would’ve not only been a bump in the road of Allen’s screenwriting career, but likely the death of it, too.


-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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