In recent years, eccentric and highly praised director Woody Allen has been mainly focused on the lighter side of comedy. Well for the most part.
Last year, we saw him start to drift back to more serious and examining fair with “Melinda and Melinda” which was a detailed look at a woman’s life through two different lenses, comedy and tragedy. The film wasn’t a complete success but it did start a new direction for Allen’s films.
Allen has always loved examining the comedic and tragic sides of life.
“Match Point” is by far his best film since “The Sweet Lowdown” or “Bullets Over Broadway”. This new film is very much in his tragic side of films.
The story centers on Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a fading tennis pro who meets Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), a well off and highly established bachelor who is dating the alluring Nola (Scarlett Johansson) who he plans to marry despite his family’s protests.
Chris is quite taken with Nola and becomes obsessed with Tom’s life.
Chris marries Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) whom he has grown close to. But Nola is never far from his mind.
When Tom and Nola split up, Chris begins to live a double life as he pursues Nola while still enjoying the rich life with Chloe. It is only a matter of time before Chris’s life begins to implode.
Allen’s examination of the duality of Chris is very inspiring and Rhys-Meyers portrays Chris with such intensity it is hard not to get into him.
Johansson plays the perfect luscious femme fatale role so perfectly I was reminded of so many other great tragic love stories.
In a much understated performance, Mortimer brings the internal struggle of Chloe to life with such ease and delicate restraint. In every scene Mortimer is able to show so much with the slightest look or glance.
I had some problems with the pacing of the film and I felt that some of the more interesting supporting players were ignored like James Nesbitt’s police inspector. There were some nice little scenes with Nesbitt but I wanted so much more.
I also felt no sympathy for the character of Tom which I think there needed to be more conflict in him or another layer because he comes off as a vacuous playboy. I would have liked to have seen him more developed so he could be more of a rival for Chris.
Rhys-Meyers, Johansson and Mortimer are brilliant and once more Allen does a wonderful job with the central focus of the film but like a lot of his films in recent years he strays from developing the supporting players.
I like that Allen is swinging back into tragedy because his clever dialogue and conflicted performances are always a real gem to watch when he isn’t solely focused on the laughs.
(3.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer