Match Point just joined Brokeback Mountain and Cinderella Man in the top three films for me this year. Like Brokeback Mountain, however, it is almost impossible to write a reasonably intelligent review without writing a spoiler.
I have been a hot and cold Woody Allen watcher, but was only a fan during his comedic phase. So, despite hearing from a few reliable sources that this is Woody's masterpiece, I was skeptical and went in with few expectations. I am glad. Approaching the movie this way allowed it to creep up on me.
The NYC Jewish dialog is gone. The quirky sense of humor is nowhere to be found. the hypersensitivity is missing. Where's Woody? Well, he's in London, but the place and time, despite the opinions of some critics, are largely irrelevant in this film.
There is only one line in this film that indicates its origin - it has something to do with 'intertwined neuroses' and nearly made me laugh.
The first 3/4ths of this film is almost completely taken up with character development, but also contains all of the basics of the inexorable plot that truly unfolds near the end. The characters are all quite likable, and, if you're like me, you will yearn for a happy ending. Watch out! - you've just been hooked and Woody's about to reel you in!
Match Point draws its audience in quietly and slowly at first, defining its territory as a smart, hip, and sophisticated character study early on (in no way unexpected for Mr. Allen), but then it takes an irreversibly sinister turn as one man threatens to bring everybody we have grown to love and respect down with him.
The performances and cinematography in this film are all-around the best I've seen this year. Allen uses a lot of very close-in face shots, and his cast handles it with ease, performing their parts with accuracy and no lack of passion. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emily Mortimer, and Scarlett Johanssen are all excellent, and the rest of the cast lends excellent support. I found no fault in the pace or the plot - this is easily Woody's most plot-heavy film, and you can tell that he had a great time putting it together.
The story line of Match Point is powerful, disturbing, and exceedingly clever. Philosophical folks will likely want to talk about it afterward. Some will find it frustrating and others will find it pretentious. Still others will point to Woody's own life and claim that this film is some form of perverse confession. Well, from my perspective, it is simply damn good story-telling.
Highly recommended for adult audiences.
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