Sunday, January 15, 2006

Match Point

2005, UK, directed by Woody Allen

Woody Allen removes himself from New York and delivers his best film in a decade. It's also one of his least 'Woody Allen' films, playing like a thriller and although it's still wordy, Allen wastes no time in plunging the audience straight to the heart of the action. Chris Wilton, an Irish tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), befriends upper-class Brit Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), and is drawn into a life of opportunity and luxury. When Chris becomes involved with Tom's sister Chloe, the paterfamilias (Brian Cox) opens professional doors, and before you know it, Chris has a lucrative role in the family business. However, Chris also involves himself with Tom's fiancée, a struggling American actress (Scarlett Johansson at her most breathy), and complications ensue as Chris tries to balance his passions - for women, wealth and status. While the twists and turns of the plot are satisfyingly labyrinthine, the character of Chris Wilton isn't fully convincing. There's no explanation for the choices he makes (at least Tom Ripley is consistently sociopathic), and Rhys-Meyers isn't given a whole lot to do apart from looking alternately pretty and tortured. That said, watching the dissection of the foibles of the British upper class is always enjoyable - they're not, in the end, a million miles from the kind of wealthy New York types more familiar in Allen's films.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States