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  • 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.
  • trevormerrill3 January 2006
    Match Point is a cool, classically elegant and concise film that addresses all of the big questions--love, morality, death, fate, chance--without ever seeming heavy or self-conscious. I've never seen a Woody Allen film to match it. As a matter of fact, I can't remember another film of late that I thought was quite this good. From the opening shot, the film draws you in and doesn't let up, moving from shot to shot with a fine sense of rhythm and a narrative drive that builds the viewer's curiosity through a series of unexpected switchbacks. Rhys-Meyers is superb as an ex- professional tennis player from a poor Irish background who has turned social climber. Too proud to accept a favor from his upper class friends without immediately offering to pay it back, he affects an interest in opera and Strindberg. The viewer at once sympathizes with him and winces as he strains to seem refined and self-assured. Allen has put together a superb cast of young actors who bring his near flawless script to life so convincingly that one almost immediately suspends disbelief and becomes absorbed in the story. The shots of London are luxuriant and spacious, never self-indulgent. Few films, novels, or plays manage to form such rich dramatic material out of characters' inner obstacles. A classic piece of drama that reaches toward the likes of Shakespeare and Dostoevksy, every facet--from structure to dialog to editing to sound--is brought off with panache. This is not only Allen at his best but an example of what the cinematic medium is capable of when properly exploited.
  • What a throughly engrossing evening Woody Allen has provided. This film has been, by and large, poorly received by the British critics. I cannot understand why. Yes, it does have the strongest echoes of Crimes and Misdemeanours, but if a director/writer can't borrow from his own product, who can? This isn't funny Allen -- there are few laughs -- but it is an extremely intense and successful serious Allen.

    Does Allen's magic transfer to my home city? You bet it does; lovely locations; Notting Hill, the Tate Modern, the "Gherkin" in the City, all look great but are also entirely relevant. Many critics said he didn't have an ear for British dialogue. I simply don't hear that -- it may be a bit stagy at times, but the writing is spare, to the point, and literate. Few trans-Atlantic clunkers.

    Yes, there are some silly bits; bits where you wish any half-intelligent Englishman had watched the film and said "Wood, old son, this is cobblers". British detectives don't call themselves "Detective so-and-so". They might be Detective-Sergeant or whatever. The force that polices London is the Metropolitan Police, not the "London Police". Perhaps Allen didn't realise that his main copper, Ulster actor James Nesbitt, sounds a parody of the amusing roles he plays in some widely-seen British Yellow Pages adverts. Little things, so easy to iron out, that detract just a touch from credibility.

    Scarlett Johannsson -- what an actress, is she really only 20 or whatever? She packs huge power and stunning looks, if occasionally getting a trifle near Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Jonathan Rhys Myers does his forlorn sports coach bit, as from Bend It Like Beckham. The solidly Brit supporting cast is entirely believable, even if their effortlessly affluent lifestyle takes a bit of swallowing. Genuine surprises at the end. This is a thoroughly satisfying evening at the movies.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Would it that this film had been made in the Forties or Fifties when film-noir was at its high point! Woody Allen, one of America's best directors pays his homage to the genre in his latest film about romantic obsession, and if his name weren't in the opening credits you wouldn't know he directed it. Taking a break from filming in the city he loves the most, deleting every trace of the well known neurotic hoots and clicks from his main and supporting British cast, and even removing the trademark reference to his own persona from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' performance, MATCH POINT becomes a very European film that starts out deceptively as a character study with comedic tones and ever so subtle moves into the darker side of love, echoing THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and of all films, FATAL ATTRACTION.

    A love quadrangle, the oldest plot device, is Allen's focus this time: Chris Wilton (Rhys-Meyers), a retired tennis player, becomes an instructor to Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). Both find that they have similar interests, such as the love of opera and the works of Dostoyevsky. (They have another similar interest, but I'm getting there). Tom invites Chris for an evening at the opera and introduces him to his family and sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer), who falls for him and who later on signifies familial safety in all forms. Sensing an opportunity to climb the social ladder he starts seeing her just as he meets Nola Rice (Scarlett Johanssen), an aspiring American actress, whom he openly flirts with until he realizes she's Tom's girlfriend, but an outsider in the Wilton household. A clandestine affair between Chris and Nola begins tentative at first -- she advises him against it since it would ruin his chances to become a success and she is engaged to Tom -- but turns deeper. However, a turn of events transpire, taking Nola out of the picture, having Tom marry another girl and Chris marry Chloe, and start to get complicated once Chris tracks Nola down.

    Like I said, would it that MATCH POINT would have been filmed 60 years ago because everything in it smolders like the plot elements of the sleekest of noir films. With a deliberate pace that begins taking a sinister shape after the second half, Allen misdirects the audience to the very core. Allen avoids any trace of romantic melodrama, though, and in showing what actually transpires between a couple ensnared in an affair -- their initial bedazzlement, their passion consummated, turning into routine and then its painful decline -- is true to life. Nola, initially seen in white much like Lana Turner in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE seems to be in total control until Allen deftly pulls the rug out of her feet and has her do a slow collapse into her own trap, dressed in darker and darker colors. Chris, at first, so lusts after her it's a question if he can choose her love over social status and this becomes the crux of MATCH POINT: whether the tennis ball falls over the net or not.

    There are moments when you think that a director who once had his audience eating out of his hand has gone into autopilot or entered a point of no return. Up until recently, Woody Allen had had even his most hardcore fans put through the ringer with film after film of a disposable nature. With this film, which has a strong connection to CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, he shows that he never was gone. In erasing all references to his staccatto style, he wins over a new audience willing to accept his work with ease and this is at times necessary: like Hitchcock's self-effacing FRENZY, MATCH POINT is an excellent movie showcasing a director in full control of his ability to tell a visual tale. Maybe not up there with the best of his roster but pretty damn close, and that's saying quite a wallop.
  • ...and what a great stroke of luck it is to have sat through Woody Allen's latest, "Match Point." Fans of Woody could sense his comeback in the tragedy half of his last effort, "Melinda and Melinda." It was far more compelling than the comedy half, and the philosophical ideas it brought up were the best Woody Allen had given us in a long while. Here with "Match Point" he explores the notion of luck and gives us his best film since....well, since I don't know when. He proves here that when he leaves himself out of the cast, and changes locations (the transition from New York City to London is as flawless as it is invigorating), he can deliver the goods. This film, free of all the typical Allen shtick, and full of noirish twists and surprises, is every bit as good as Robert Altman's "The Player" or "Gosford Park," and like those two films, it's the best kind of return to form you could hope for from a past master.

    Chris Wilton (played moderately well by Johnathan Rhys Myers, who comes across as a more handsome Joquin Phoenix) is a failed tennis pro from Ireland who gets a plum job at a snobbish country club in London where he meets up with Tom (an appropriately British Matthew Goode), woos his sister, Chloe (an adorable Emily Mortimer), and has an affair with Tom's flighty fiancée, a struggling American actress named Nola (a ravishing Scarlett Johansson). The film starts off like a more refined version of last year's tawdry affair, "Closer," with Allen exploring the love lives of semi-bored, over-educated filthy rich Brits who when not hopping in and out of each other's beds are hob-nobbing at the opera, the latest art exhibit, or lounging around their lavish estates reading and drinking. There's also a hint of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" in its exploration of the class system and Chris' obsession with infiltrating this exclusive and beguiling society. Thankfully, we're spared all of the weirdness of an atrocity like "Ripley," as Allen keeps it all very clean, sheen, clever and classy.

    The film takes some dark turns and has some operatic overtures, spiced with some Dostoevsky references and plenty of pondering on luck. Allen here doesn't seem to be writing off the need for hard work completely, but to achieve a truly privileged life, where one can get away with just about anything, you better have a lot of luck.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In "Match Point," Woody Allen, caught in one of his more "serious" moods, takes a simple tale about marital infidelity and turns it into something complex and fascinating. Although he leaves a trail of clues implying that this is to be another of his homages to Fyodor Dostoevsky, the film really turns out to be Allen's own version of Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy" (albeit set in England, perhaps to throw us off the scent). The parallels between the two works are not perfect, of course - in fact they often seem to be intentionally inverted - but they are close enough to make us wonder if Allen did, indeed, do it all on purpose.

    Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays Chris Wilton, a down-on-his-luck social climber who marries into wealth but longs for the passion he finds with another woman. Chris is a professional tennis player who decides to leave the circuit when he realizes he hasn't the skill to compete with the real pros. Taking a job as an instructor at a posh, highly exclusive tennis club, Chris finds himself wining and dining with the rich and famous after one of his pupils, Tom Hewett, takes a liking to him and introduces Chris to his snooty but accepting family. Chris begins to date Tom's warmhearted sister, Chloe, but he is really smitten by an aspiring American actress, Nola, who just happens to be Tom's fiancé. Chris makes the mistake of marrying Chloe before Tom and Nola call off their engagement and go their separate ways. The fact that Nola is free but he is not doesn't deter Chris from pursing an affair with the woman who provides all the passion and excitement his loving but boring wife cannot. But Chris soon discovers that carrying on an affair can result in a life filled with secrecy, lies, guilt and self-loathing. And when the going gets to be just a bit too much for our hero to handle…well, there's always that "final solution" lurking in the wings, as many an earlier adulterer has discovered to his everlasting regret.

    "Match Point" starts off very slowly and seems at first as if it will be just another tale of adultery and unrequited love. Yet, Allen really knows how to draw us into Chris' predicament, so that, by about halfway into the film, we feel as enmeshed in his seemingly irreconcilable dilemma as he himself is. Torn between the wealth and position he has as Chloe's husband and the love he feels for the relatively impoverished Nola, Chris is frozen into a state of paralyzing indecisiveness, his every waking moment a tormenting hell of fear and gathering dread as he keeps waiting in breathless anticipation for that other shoe to drop. It isn't until the "other woman" becomes more of a burden than his clinging wife that Chris can finally launch into action. This turnabout in the screenplay might strike many in the audience as arbitrary and implausible and there is certainly a case to be made for that. But if you can go with the flow, you will be delighted by all the little ironies Allen throws at us in the final stages of the story, which help to underline the filmmaker's thesis that, for all the efforts we make to control our lives, The Fickle Finger of Fate - or in this case a tennis ball precariously balancing on the top of a net trying to figure out which way to fall - always has the final word.

    Allen has written dialogue that is incisive, intelligent and literate, and the performances he's drawn from the likes of Rhys-Meyers, Goode, Emily Mortimer, Scarlett Johannson and Penelope Wilton are superb down to the tiniest detail. Allen keeps his camera tightly focused on his characters, rarely pulling away from them much beyond a middle distance, keeping us firmly locked in the near-claustrophobic drama. Here is a movie that demands patience at the beginning but that really sneaks up on you the longer you watch it.

    Guided by the hands of a master, "Match Point" is one of Allen's finest films in years.
  • evo8mr10 January 2006
    The best Woody Allen movie in about 15 years. I would've said that a couple of months back about 'Melinda and Melinda' but this is a far better cry than Melinda and Melinda. Don't get me wrong, I think Melinda and Melinda is a good movie, but 'Match' is more fulfilling.

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Chris Wilton, a former tennis pro turned tennis teacher who is of Irish lower class. He is shocked to find out he got a job as a tennis instructor in a high class country club. There he meets Tom Hewett played by Matthew Goode in a very strong performance. What Rhys Meyers does is unbelievable, he showcases what he is really made of in this movie. Chris sounds like a simple person but what Rhys Meyers did was make him a person of complexity. From the moments of solitude when he's in the same room as his family, the way he grieves for what he's doing and what he is about to do is very convincing.

    Emily Mortimer plays Chloe Hewett Wilton, Chris' wife and Tom's sister. Also what Mortimer does is also outstanding, even though she isn't given much to make Chloe a person rather than a persona, Mortimer makes Chloe a person with ease. In my opinion, I think Emily Mortimer does a better job of playing her character than Kate Winslet would've done had she been attached. She has the right notes and chemistry with Jonathan Rhys Meyers to make their marriage and romance very believable, and what Mortimer does in the moments of denial and solitude she is given, she makes Chloe a complete person. This performance should make her a star.

    Scarlett Johansson gives, in my opinion, maybe her 2nd best performance in this movie. Johansson is OUTSTANDING as Nola Rice, a struggling actress. Johansson shows us her range to play this character, the epitome of tragic beauty, Johansson combines elements of sexuality, desire, nostalgia, in one being. Though this performance may not be as good as her performance in Lost in Translation, its still good enough to get her an Academy Award Nomination.

    Match Point starts off as a drama and works its way into being a very tense psychological thriller, and Woody Allen shows he is still in top form by trying something daring, and pulling it off. This movie is a silent masterpiece.
  • gpmovie27 May 2005
    I was lucky enough to see this film at the Cannes Film Festival recently where it screened out of competition. Being a Woody Allen fan, I was just hoping the film would be OK and not a disaster like some of his most recent films. Boy, was I surprised! MATCH POINT is easily his best film since CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS and once of his best ever. In his first foray out of Manhattan and into London, you would have thought he had lived there all his life. This film is a masterpiece and is a sure bet to win critical acclaim and many awards. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a revelation and finally lands a role of a lifetime as a young man who enters the world of the wealthy elite and would do anything to stay there. Scarlett Johansson has never looked as sultry and sexy as she does here playing the cool femme fatale. The film is beautifully structured and the performances by all and sundry are exemplary. Emily Mortimer and Brian Cox stand out among the supporting cast. The film has so many layers and so many unexpected twists that this is obviously the work of a genius director in full flight.

    What can I say. The best way to see this film is without knowing too much about it as I did and you will come away from it declaring that Woody Allen is still alive and kicking and still able to make a masterpiece even after all these years.
  • It's been said, but for a while one of the best filmmakers of the 20th century has been staggering with mediocre films not nearly up to his potential. But finally Allen has returned to the game with a subtle but perfectly done thriller which allows him to reinvent himself and discover new terrain like a brand new filmmaker.

    Match Point offers a simple but powerful message that luck plays a huge part in everyday life which to a major extent is true. Luck plays a huge part in Chris Wiltons life when he gets a job as a tennis trainer at a fancy club and meets Tom, the son of a rich business man. Tom invites Chris to an opera where he meets Chloe, the sister of Tom. From there, Chris and Chloe start to date and Chris, a small and unwealthy man, gets introduced to high society life. He's offered a high stakes job, a personal driver, etc, just to bring happiness into the life of Chloe.

    Chris is perfectly content until he meets the beautiful Nola, played by Scarlett Johansson. Nola is everything Chloe is not, exciting, extremely sexy, and unwealthy, which leads to Chris's dilemma. Nola and Chris begin an affair that leads to even more once Tom dumps Nola giving Chris the opportunity to live out all his sexual desires with a beautiful woman, but the high life of Chloe overpowers the little ambitions and lack of money. Match Point is about luck but also about choices made in life for personal enjoyment. Is it better to be rich and not completely satisfied or poor and happy? As a failure, Chris finds luck with Chloe's rich family willing to set him up with whatever he desires.

    The film is very similar to Woody's 1989 masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors and it takes similar turns. Chris gets himself in the situation where he must choose from a small life with a woman he is satisfied and turned on by or choose a high society life with a woman he barely loves and lacks attraction to. I won't tell you what he chooses, but I will tell you the dilemma leads Allen to his most satisfying, tense, engaging film in over a decade.

    It's great to see Allen take such a simple premise, used several times, and put all his trademark qualities into it mixed with a discovery of new terrain. Match Point is an engaging, entertaining film that gives you a taste of the high life and shows you what it can lead a man to. 10-10 for this excellent film by the great Woody Allen. Let's hope this is a revelation for Allen returning him to morality film-making.
  • Match Point is my favorite American-directed film of 2005. Woody Allen, coming off of hitting his stride again with Melinda and Melinda, goes back to his darker, dramatic side, and makes a story that may seem a little familiar, though not to his discredit. Woody borrows (some may say steal) elements from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, one of the great novels of the 19th century (some may say ever written, I have read his work though not this yet), and transfuses it with subject matter that he's more than well acquainted with- the relationship drama. But un-like Love and Death, which was Allen's way of parodying the work of the author, this time he takes the work seriously, plunging the audience into the mind, conflicts, and outcome of the protagonist. That the performances by the actors involved, particularly the three main leads are top notch (Jonathan Rhys-Myers, Emily Mortimer, and Scarlett Johnasson in one of her best) brings full blood and flesh to Woody's strong skeleton of a film.

    The story starts slow. Chris Wilton (Rhys-Myers) is an Irishman in London, a tennis instructor who could've gone pro. He meets Chloe (Mortimer) through her brother Tom (Matthew Goode) and they soon become close, close enough for marriage. Basically, he marries into an upper-class family where he's coaxed into becoming a businessman for the family. But during this he also meets Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), a struggling American actress, who's engaged to Tom. One thing leads to another, yada-yada, and Chris winds up in a big pickle as he's in a love-triangle between Chloe and Nola. Allen handles this dilemma with a powerful precision, by building up the relationships Chris has with each girl, and how there is not unbelievability in the set-ups. Nola is sensible and intelligent, if not altogether, while Chloe is caring and decent, if maybe too picture perfect for Chris. The dynamics are set-up so well, it leaves room for ample drama and suspense.

    Allen, who has also been a playwright for decades, knows the way people interact like so, and how not to rush the situations and use tact with delicate scenes. There is also the element of Opera, which Chris sees with Chloe's family often, and the element of tennis. The analogies that both produce could possibly be very trite or cliché. It's not to say a couple of scenes are even cliché (ladies, you know you've seen quite a few movies with passionate kissing in the rain), but I even bought into those scenes. There is perhaps a certain manipulation that goes into these kinds of love stories, how much the audience can go with the inner conflict of our main character. But as the protagonist goes into a frame of mind that most may not be able to identify with, we're still with him all the way. And, perhaps, it's also because I love a good, solid infidelity story. Allen has here not only his best film in several years, but also likely his most suspenseful one.

    Those who may not go with the sympathies &/or empathy for the characters may not like the film as much. Some have even criticized minor gripes with the film, like Rhys-Myers's unconvincing accent, or the over-usage of London's most famous landmarks. As an American, perhaps, I didn't mind certain things like these. When a filmmaker has this much trust in his script (and Woody, pushing 70 in making this, is not amateur), and has the right cast, it just takes off from there. To say I was on the edge of my seat through a good chunk of the third act is an under-statement and, at the core, was even cathartic in a way. It's the kind of film I would love to tell more people about, even if they think Woody is washed up after years of arguably less-than-great pictures. For some it might not even 'feel' like a Woody Allen movie, that at times it's a little 'slick'. It still is, however the work of an artist reaching further into his grab-bag with younger, exciting actors, and an interesting use of a (finally) new city.
  • fdbjr27 January 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    The first part of 'Match Point', about the drift of the hero into a passionate but adulterous affair, is pretty good. But even in these scenes there are problems. For example, there is a love making scene in a field in the rain. I guess it is supposed to resonate with unbridled passion - but all I could think of is how uncomfortable the lovers would be, in the cold English rain and damp prickly hay. I generally enjoy tasteful erotic scenes, but the concept is preposterous.

    However, this is small potatoes compared to the utter idiocy of the criminal plot and subsequent police work. The hero steals a skeet gun belonging to his father-in-law to murder his mistress by staging a robbery. He kills a neighbor, and then his girlfriend, the notion being that she surprised the thief. Both times the gun makes a polite little pop. Did Allen or any of the critics who praised this movie ever consider what sort of sound a skeet rifle ACTUALLY makes? When fired indoors? The entire building would shake. The reverbations would be heard for blocks around. The murderer would be found out in two minutes. The whole concept is utter nonsense. Hitchcock never overlooked such realistic details in his movies.

    But infinitely worse is the police work - the typical contempt of a New York intellectual for the solid common sense of everyday life. One of the detectives sees through the scheme. But he gives up when a drug addict is discovered with an item of jewelry from the theft. Allen actually believes the police are not going to wonder how such a derelict came to possess an expensive skeet rifle? Or what happened to it? Or will not run routine ballistic tests on the rifles the father owns, the hero's motive being known to them? That they will close out a double homicide on one flimsy, possibly coincidental bit of evidence? Do be serious. There is more thoughtfulness in the first five minutes of any 'Law and Order' episode than this.

    This movie is a little better than Allen's recent stuff - the drift into adultery is really good. But the plot twist is just plain stupid. The critics are rooting so hard for Allen that they overlook the sheer dumbness of the plot. But it is indeed dumb - so dumb that it wreaks havoc with the movie.
  • A Noir with English accents. A modern, ancient tale with super stars of the future and a score of crackling vinyl original recordings of timeless arias. A sixtysomething filmmaker with the flair of an impertinent newcomer. A masterpiece. Engrossing, entertaining, elegant, wicked. The meeting between the splendorous Scarlett Johanssen and the breathtaking Jonathan Rhys-Meyers at the ping pong table is right out "A Place In The Sun" - Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift at the pool table - the feeling is James Cain and Patricia Highsmith but the result is unique, bold, enthralling. Allen's British dialogues are refreshingly startling and I don't intend to spoil the pleasure of its perverse surprises by hinting at any of them. Just let me say that if you love cinema, rush to see it.
  • Mrswing1 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    After reading all the hype about this film, I had very high hopes for it. Unfortunately, the end result was very, very disappointing. First of all, the plot is an extended variation/rehash of the tragic plot line of Crimes and Misdemeanours. So despite the London backdrop to the story, again nearly nothing new under the sun. Secondly, the movie is SLOW. Almost nothing happens for a very long time, and there are several extremely short scenes which could have been removed without the slightest impact on the storyline. Some scenes have dreadful explanatory dialogue, while others do sparkle (the ping-pong scene, for instance). Third, Rhys-Myers is extremely uneven. Sometimes his performance is riveting (epescially during the third act), sometimes it is stilted and mannered to an extreme. I kept expecting this to be for some sort of story reason, but no such luck. Four, the potential of the plot is underdeveloped. There were tons of possibilities for further complications and obstacles to confront Rhys-Myers with, but they were all ignored. Just when the film becomes interesting, it ends. Five, the resolution of the plot is not believable. And this mainly due to exceptional stupidity from the London Police. In real life, a cop like James Nesbitt would not give up his investigation immediately - he would stay on the scent, try to trap his suspect, look for clues (DNA, gun) etc. Allen wants the punchline about the role of fate to drive the entire film, and sacrifices both character and suspension of disbelief to this end. That's lousy writing. Six, Scarlett Johansson's character becomes intensely unlikeable, although her expectations and desires in the story are justified and basically honest.

    In short, Woody Allen is nowhere near on top form again. The sad reality is that he probably never again will be...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well. And what a waste of 8 euros "Match Point" turned out to be. As it happens, Woody Allen couldn't get financing in the US, or at least without strings attached, so he's decided to go and milk the BBC instead. Which means, in effect, that he recycled a story he'd written for a New York setting straight into a London setting, without any attempt at any significant rewrite. And "written" is a loose term. "An American Tragedy" meets "A Place In The Sun" meets "Room at the Top" meets "The Talented Mr. Ripley" meets (but let's not get carried away) "Le Rouge et le Noir." Ambitious poor boy courts aristocratic rich girl then gets torn between rich in-laws and poor girlfriend from the wrong side of the tracks. If you think this is too generic a summary, that's the whole point: "Match Point" is nothing but generic.

    It's not just that Jonathan Rhys Meyers' young Irish tennis pro speaks like a 1950s BBC presenter without a hint of an explanation of how it came to him; it's that when he meets an old tennis acquaintance in the street, or when he bursts into a rage, his accent doesn't change. (Everybody in the movie speaks RP, except for the Scot-and-Cockney-coppers-as-comic-relief, and the property agent right at the beginning, probably because he was initially written as yammering in broad Brooklynese.) It's not just that sugar-daddy's country house is totally unconvincing if he's old money (wall-to-wall carpeting?), or his accent is if he's Alan Sugar. It's not just that somehow, I can't imagine a London copper calling someone a "schmuck", or a Sloane Ranger, however arty, mention that a couple is made in heaven because "their neuroses match". Or another Sloane boasting of getting good invitations because she was "born in Belgravia." Or that the country house set would welcome their daughter marrying a tennis instructor. Or that the cocktail-swilling son of the house, all public-school accent and Jeeves-and-Woosterish quips, could get away with calling even the hired help "Hey, Irish", meaning it to be affectionate. (Although the initial meeting between said son, played on automatic pilot by Matthew Goode, and JRM as his tennis coach at the Kensington Queen's Club, plays like nothing more than a gay pickup, all "Oh, you like opera? My father gives a tonne of money to Covent Garden, can I take you to Traviata tomorrow night?" for entirely too long for his sister to look like anything but a beard for the rest of the movie.) Or that even Richard Branson could just snap his fingers and said tennis pro becomes magically a business wizard. Or that a would-be American actress with only a commercial under her belt would audition for a part at the Royal Court.

    It's that nobody has a real backstory, or even edges. (Scarlett Johansson does wonders with what little she's given. JRM is pretty - when he panics, you can't quite tell whether it's because he's afraid of handling a gun, or because he's just read the rest of the screenplay.) As for London, Allen tries for the postcard effect he perfected in "Manhattan" (complete with self-reference to the River Café shot), but he entirely misses the texture of the city: there isn't a single London scene set in a house, for instance, it's all flats (it's summer but Allen's London practically has no trees); people shop in Mayfair (at Aspreys and Ralph Lauren, natch), not Sloane Street; and when JRM, early in the movie, takes his posh totty for a romantic walk, it's to watch the changing of the guard at Buck House.

    To be honest, there is a lovely plot twist right in the last five minutes. It's contrived, yes, but very clever. But it's not worth waiting two hours for.

    And apparently, the Beeb has done it again: Allen's next movie, also starring Johansson, is also set in London. Chaps, this is your licence fee money that's being wasted.

    It probably won't surprise anyone that the same French critics who found Existentialist genius in Jerry Lewis simply loved the movie, ranking it as high as Annie Hall in Allen's oeuvre. Le Monde called in "pungent social criticism with...a deeply-felt clinical study of class relations conditioning men's [*] behaviour and destiny in the...deterministic social system." And you were wondering why we had those riots.

    [*] Nah, this isn't a feminist take - Le Monde's critics have no qualms about using "men" when they mean "human."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    1) As the film progressed it became hard to believe that the main male character, Chris Wilton,as portrayed by J.R. Meyers, was so complex and driven that he would murder two people to sustain his life. I think the script was OK on this but the casting wasn't. 2) The planning/execution of the murders as filmed was a class b movie. The suspense! Will he get caught in the planning or the act!? 2a) During the murders, committed with a shotgun (loud noise folks!), no movie neighbor could hear the gunshot. Why? Because the soundtrack was playing operatic music quite loudly. BUT FOLKS, THIS WAS THE SOUNDTRACK, NOT REAL AMBIENT SOUND. A Monty Python influence perhaps? 3) Without explanation the killer carries incriminating evidence with him from the city to the country He couldn't go to the Thames at night and dump the stuff? 4) With poetic license heavily imposed, the killer finds the ring of a victim he's killed and doesn't do a good job throwing it into the river. It bounces on the river's railing (tennis anyone?) and ends up on the walkway. WHERE A TO-BE MURDERED JUNKY FROM THE EARLIER SCENE OF THE TWO MURDERS MIRACULOUSLY FINDS IT. My goodness, what a coincidence! Miscellaneous: a)Other critiques have mentioned the initial Chris and Nola sex scene and I would underline their criticism: in broad daylight, during that rainstorm, would even that kind of passion permit the two of them to Let's Do It In The Road? Without a fear of being seen? I don't think so. b)Tired, tired, tired was the Son-in-law Also Rises cliché. What the hell did he do at father-in-law's firm? c)The two cops at the end were almost cartoon-like in being added to flesh out the "irony" of the story. Reminded me of Bugs Bunny cartoons where Bugs reaches into a pouch and pulls out a deus ex machina-like invention.

    But other than the above I loved the movie.
  • Words almost fail me, but the message I must give is important for any Woody Allen completist planning to spend any time or money on watching this clumsy, tedious, and simply irritating movie. PLEASE DON'T! And if you're not a Woody fan - WATCH SOMETHING ELSE!

    I am a big Woody Allen fan; I was looking forward to this film being a worthy addition to his tremendous, if variable, portfolio. And I respect Woody for trying something new here, by crossing the Atlantic to make a film with a cast made up almost solely of English characters based in an around London. But the result is truly execrable! It pains me to give such a low mark to a film by such a great film-maker.

    I'd say that the fact that this film has made many millions of dollars at the box-office must be based entirely on his reputation, but all of Woody's other recent films have done far less well - why?? This is one baffling aspect of this movie. But the most baffling aspect is just how/why did it turn out to be such a stinker?

    Where does it all go wrong? Well, the central story is just about acceptable if you're happy to accept yet another very run-of-the-mill hokey story about a crime of passion that wouldn't have vexed the minds of thriller fans in any era. It's nothing special story-wise, but nothing too awful.

    What murders this film stone-dead from the earliest scenes is the poor dialogue, and in particular the appalling series of lines painfully delivered by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Chris, the central character who (unfortunately for the viewer) appears in virtually every scene of the film. Now as the film wore on, I became increasingly concerned that JRM is simply not a good actor. I'd be very happy to be proved wrong, I've no problem with his other work, but his peculiar transatlantic accent and extraordinarily stilted manner combines with the humourless, charmless dialogue that he's given by Allen to kill every scene in its tracks.

    More? There is no humour or levity whatsoever, at any point in the film. Despite this, a whole host of fine British comic actors make sadly wasted appearances, presumably drawn to the fake aura of Woody. The office scenes, at Chris's workplace, are risible. JRM's amorous clinches with Scarlett Johansson's American character (tellingly the most convincingly written part here) are frankly embarrassing, really quite bizarre in their inept staging and performance.

    Woody received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay! How???

    Enough already! Just don't be tempted! DON'T!

    If you're a Woody fan yearning for new material, watch Julie Delpy's "2 Days in Paris" - infinitely better than anything the man himself can muster nowadays ...
  • SJ and JRM obviously needed at least some direction from Woody Allen to develop their characters past the point of a teenage crush gone wrong. In their defense, it must be said that the plot was clunky and full of holes and the dialog was amateurish so they didn't have much to work with. Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode did as much as they could with their one dimensional characters which was to be charming and sweet.

    Woody Allen has done some less than great movies in recent years, but now he just seems to be going through the motions. Where's the clever dialog, the deep character studies and the intriguing plots and subplots that are hallmarks of his better work? The script and the direction seemed like the work of a college film major with a big budget.

    The critics who are giving this movie over the top great reviews should watch "Crimes and Misdemeanors" to see what a masterpiece by Woody Allen is really like.
  • I too am a great Woody Allen fan, and was very nervous about seeing his attempt at a 'serious' work. I'd read mixed reviews like everyone, and went fairly open-minded. After seeing this film I can not understand how it could garner a single positive review. Featuring the worst central performance I've seen in a long time (Rhys-Meyers) who gave his most wooden performance yet (and that really is saying something). A pretty boy and nothing more. The plot was bizarrely simple and well-worn, one-dimensional and utterly unengaging. Scarlett Johansson, bless her, tries but just looks ridiculous bringing such over top sultriness - the first time we see her, lighting a cigarette and giving the camera a Look made me laugh out loud. Completely devoid of humour, Allen has made a film about English Upper Class that he obviously knows nothing about. Attempts at intriguing themes of luck etc fall flat on their face with a big thud. For God's sake, don't encourage him to make more of this kind of cinema.
  • A sleazy, blue collar tennis pro marries into a wealthy family -- only to risk it all for back-alley passion that swiftly turns to horror.

    Woody Allen is telling an old story. Not only does he borrow shamelessly from Dreiser's classic novel An American Tragedy, (1925) but from modern films like MASQUERADE (1988) and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999).

    Problem is, the cast and the script are not good enough to make the familiar material seem fresh, let alone gripping. When you watch THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, the lush Italian setting and the casual cool of Jude Law's "Dickie Greenleaf" really sell you on the idea that the good life is worth killing for. But in this movie, the rich family are such a one-dimensional collection of yawning British stereotypes it's impossible to imagine any poor boy being tempted -- let alone captivated -- by their listless pleasures and sleepy little lives.

    Then there's the hero. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a total Joe Blow. He fails to make this creepy little social climber even remotely interesting. When Matt Damon played Tom Ripley, he did a brilliant job of making Ripley seem sweet and helpless at first --so you could like him, and also so you could see why he reaches his breaking point and starts fighting back. Even Rob Lowe in MASQUERADE was able to summon up a certain easy cool. His gigolo was a rugged sailor, a true competitor, and he fell in love with his target for real. (Very romantic.) More than that, he was a guy who got off on thinking fast and fooling the rich folks. But Joe Blow can't do that. He has zero sexual allure, zero danger, no soul. Just a blank stare and a pout.

    Things only get worse when Scarlett Johanssen makes the scene. Not since Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman were scorching up the screen in their STARS WARS abomination have two sulky young stars so utterly lacked any sexual fire or intelligence. The difference is that George Lucas never said he understood sexual passion. And he never built his stories around desire. But in MATCH POINT everything depends on the idea that Joe Blow is willing to throw away everything --and I mean EVERYTHING -- just for more hot sex with his secret girlfriend.

    Poor Scarlett Johannsen! She's not really that bad an actress. But she's in the hands of a director who is so old and tired and bored that he can't even begin to think about helping her create a character. Woody's idea of making a young woman "sexy" is to have her light up a cigarette. So disgusting! And worse than that, so out of date!

    Scarlett's Nola Rice is nothing but a plot contrivance. One minute she's a crude, trash-talking slut, a gold digger bragging that she can bag any man. Then suddenly she's a good girl, toiling away in a cozy little shop and aching for her man to come "home" to her instead of going back to his wife. Huh??!??! Did Woody even TRY to explain this character to Scarlett? I don't think so, because she looks really confused (and sleepy) all the time, like a young actress who's been partying a bit too hard while shooting overseas.

    At any rate, the movie all boils down to Joe Blow suddenly being so desperate and obsessed that he just has to kill someone. Now, the truth is he could have killed the ENTIRE CAST by the last half hour and the whole audience would have just turned over and snored. Or stood up and cheered. But there are a couple of surprise twists at the end -- worth seeing just for the way they make you think. But on an emotional level, they don't involve anything sexy or exciting, like a happy ending. Woody Allen is above that sort of thing.

    Woody Allen is a serious artist -- and we all must pay!
  • This film at first doesn't seem like a typical Woody Allen film but at the end you know it's one and why. While the story and theme is familiar, Mr Allen brings new perspective and avoids clichés. He goes to the themes he explored in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" but without the Ingmar Bergman homage. Instead it's more fun and exciting to watch. I guess the young hot cast and new location doesn't seem like the usual Woody Allen film, even though he used young hot talents before. This one belongs to his best films which is good news to his fans. The cast is excellent but the supporting cast outshines the leads somehow. Matthew Goode made a strong impression and sure to become a star in the near future. I'm glad Woody Allen changed locations and used some of the best British actors for a change. I guess people who will read this comment, will already know about the plot, so I will avoid it. I watched the film at Cannes where it was well received by critics and the audience.
  • A problematic film for long-time Woody Allen fans.

    Essentially, this is the Hallmark card version of Crimes and Misdemeanors (via An American Tragedy, A Place in the Sun, Room at the Top and many others) which provides as much sustenance as gorging on angel-food cake. There are so many miscalculations and misjudgements that the mind reels in the attempt to list them. For starters, how can a director as experienced and spoilt for choice as Woody Allen frame an entire film around a performer who can't act? Jonathan Rhys Meyers is so unsure of himself that even his accent isn't credible although he's only required to play an Irishman which, in reality, he is! It's logical that an aspirant attempting to ingratiate himself with the Upper Class (which he seems to manage in just a few seconds, at most) would purposely modify his accent to fit in but anyone with half an ear will be distracted by the strange melange that issues forth even in the earliest moments of the film. Put that together with the numerous pouts and bizarre facial ticks that Allen's camera devotedly captures (again, why so many long shots and close ups on a performer who can't deliver the goods?) which supposedly constitute for projection of deep inner conflict and you have something approximating an automaton being controlled via faulty wiring. This is a deeply embarrassing and misguided performance that some might see as mysterious or enigmatic but, to the perceptive viewer, remains woefully inadequate. Scarlett Johansson fares somewhat better by at least consistently sounding like the New Yorker that she is but the role does seem out of her current emotional depth. Allen's view of her character, at least, is the most three-dimensional in the film possibly because he is writing about things closer to home. The rest of the cast consist of reliable British actors who have severely underwritten and badly observed parts (Brian Cox's monotone father tends to grate, as does the ludicrously plummy brother and sister) or distracting cameos by well known TV performers who have seemingly wrangled themselves a bit of immortality by being in a Woody film.

    London itself is reduced to a cardboard cutout Manhattan-like island where people always bump into each other (whether it be in Mayfair shopping for Casmere jumpers or casually hanging out at the Tate Modern), and every move made includes the incorporation of some major landmark in the background. If Woody had decided to pay homage to Rene Clair's wonderful surrealist film 'Paris Qi Dort' (about a man who lives at the top of the Eiffel Tower) by having his main character find a great flat inside Big Ben, I wouldn't have been any less convinced.

    As for the dialogue, the less said the better. A major point (not much discussed in other reviews) is that, at over 2 hours, this is his longest film. He also, pretty much, has the least to say in it. It's a long way down from 'Another Woman' and his other idea rich 'serious' films which barely approached the 90 minute barrier. Possibly the only way to endure this particular turkey is to imagine it's a 'Love And Death' style comedy and that Woody is actually sending the whole thing up.

    Enthusiasts of Woody Allen's work will be severely shell-shocked to see how badly their idol has fallen, even in light of his post 'Sweet & Lowdown' (the last major work) output. Woody, please, either wait till you have something to say (and know how to say it) or take up gardening or something. Please!
  • Ridiculous thriller with an entirely unconvincing feel. I haven't lived in London for some time but it's nothing like the city in this movie. It reminds me of Hitchcock's late film Frenzy, also set in London, but a London that hadn't existed since the 30s. And the plot! None of it holds together for a moment. Who are these rich people? They don't behave like aristos. They don't talk like them. Are they nouveau riche? But they have the habits of old money. Or at least the pretensions. And how can an American actress be working in the UK? The union wouldn't let her. She seems to support herself effortlessly on one commercial? Do you know what that would pay? And JRD is just not up to it. Perhaps not his fault. The acting is never anything but functional. And all the opera malarkey is only there to add a specious gloss of culture and scale.

    A dismal little film. I was only thankful he wasn't in it.
  • In this film Woody Allen does for present day London roughly what Dick van Dyke did for cockney chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins - that is, strike an almost unending series of false notes. Jonathan Rhys Myers plays Chris Wilton, a tennis pro whose every gesture suggests privilege; we are asked to believe he comes from a poor Irish background. The Hewitts, the family with whom he becomes involved, do not work as individuals, and do not work as a family. So many little things aren't right. Mrs H dresses like a woman a couple of social classes below her, for example. The portrayal of business life is also a travesty. Mr H has the general demeanour of an antiques dealer, but the plot has him run a string of companies (called Hewitt Inc, though of course British firms are plcs) where he has no problems installing his son-in-law and giving him the sort of car and chauffeur that would not normally go to anyone below board level in a FTSE-100 firm - if then. Daughter Chloe simply sets up an art gallery in one of the smartest parts of London - Emily Mortimer who plays her and comes from this sort of milieu really should have known better.

    As for the plot, others have commented on its shortcomings. Still, however hard to believe, it did carry me through to the end. And some of the cast and settings were nice to look at, and the sound track wasn't unpleasant - though I couldn't really work out the justification for it. I can imagine at least two levels of awfulness worse than this, so I'll give it three out of ten. (Why, incidentally, is there no zero ranking?)
  • steve-254029 January 2006
    As a long time Woody Allen addict, I never thought I would complain that he had made a bad movie, but sadly that day has arrived. I heard him interviewed on the BBC saying how easy it had been to relocate from his familiar territory in New York and the Hamptons to London and the Home Counties, and I suspect that is where the problem lies. He has delivered a shallow, picture postcard view of England, and an outsider's half-baked idea of social class in England. As a Londoner, I say that if he would stick to the NY settings he knows so intimately, we Brits would continue flocking to his movies and loving them. What's worse (and probably connected to the first problem) the acting and direction feel painfully slow and stilted. And why, in the scenes at the Opera House, were the performances accompanied by a piano, not an orchestra? Would the budget not stretch to paying the orchestra? A trivial point, perhaps, but it distracted me. Redeeming points: a nice performance by the lovely Scarlett Johansson and an interesting plot twist towards the end. But I have rarely left a cinema feeling so deflated!
  • I watched this film in Dublin. Where to begin, with criticism? Perhaps the first point to note is the atrociously stilted dialogue. Is that what was intended? Did Woody Allen think it was supposed to be funny/ironic? All I can say is that the few laughs that this movie did get were of a very uncertain nature; the audience--more often than not--didn't seem to know whether they laughing with the movie, or at it.

    The crime that occurs is so out of character that it is really quite absurd. But Roger Ebert says: "Let us talk instead in terms of the underlying philosophical issues. To what degree are we prepared to set aside our moral qualms in order to indulge in greed and selfishness?" Now, that really is making a silk purse out of a sow's ear!

    The critics who have praised this movie seem to me to have read far too much into it. It seems to me that the whole thing was a shaggy-dog story that led up to one big joke at the end, and it wasn't worth the wait as far as I was concerned. However it is clear that most reviewers in IMDb think otherwise. Has the world gone mad?!
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