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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.67%
Worth A Look51.65%
Average: 12.09%
Pretty Bad: 4.4%
Total Crap: 2.2%

9 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Match Point
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by Erik Childress

"Scarlett Attraction"
4 stars

If you want to bring a sophistication to the peddling of adulterous characters, you go to the UK. If you want to wrestle with the moral wranglings of such infidelities with a twinge of intellectual prowess, you don’t have to go further than Woody Allen. Although lately that wouldn’t be the easiest answer. With the streak he’s been on, Allen’s humor has had the unfortunate stench of decade-old milk and his flair for the dramatics, while questionable and as obvious as Tom’s proverbial thumb at times, becomes grating like the story we’ve heard a hundred times and wasn’t that great the first time to begin with. On top of that, who needs to sit through another tale of flawed human beings making the wrong choices that will inevitably come back to haunt them and hurt everyone else? When it’s probably Woody’s best film since Hannah and Her Sisters, count yourself to be amongst the lucky few.

Allen’s prevalent theme this time around focuses on just that – luck – and the nature of it. Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) extols the importance of it during an opening voiceover relating it to the ball that hits the net in tennis. For a split-second it can go over in your favor or backspin back into your court where you lose the match. Wilton is a former tennis pro, never amounting to much but enough to get him an instructor’s gig at a grand British country club. He strikes a friendship with Tom (Matthew Goode) which leads to meeting his sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer), whom he begins a reserved courtship with. From the get-go, it’s clear that Chloe is more into Chris than vice versa, but Chris knows his options are scarce and that marrying into money works for men just as well as it does women.

It’s at first glance of Tom’s American fiancée, Nola (Scarlett Johansson) that we see Chris immediately in lust. She’s a wannabe actress who looks like a golden age moviestar, complete with the blond hair, cigarette and voice that calls for animal instincts. Mom & Pop Wilton (Penelope Wilton[/b[ & Brian Cox) give Chris a greater approval rating than they do Nola; Mom being particularly more judgmental than the family Stone. Nola recognizes the condemnation (how can she not?) and is in the same boat as Chris with her financial future, so she’s cautious in making the wrong move. Perhaps that’s what brings them closer; understanding that this may be the last chance of having something that’s their own. The Wilton siblings are left far on the outside of this attraction – one scene almost exactly replicates the Douglas/Close restaurant meeting of a more Fatal kind – and they resist themselves as long as they can.

I must also resist myself to go further into the plot as these are details best left to your imagination and surprise. Are there greater motives behind the affair? How long can it last without the parties breaking down into explanations and apologies? Just as I thought I saw the path of Match Point’s least resistance, it jerks you in another direction and really plays with luck’s grand scheme. For most of the running time, the film is so distinctly un-Woody like (beyond it’s British cast and non-NY setting) that even if you know going in who is behind it, you would swear that someone did a rewrite or otherwise calling “action!” Working with cinematographer Remi Adefarasin makes the locations sing and adds depth to the later scenes as things begin spiraling beyond everyone’s control.

The film does earmark the heavy-handedness with which Allen metathesizes to bullhorn levels. His choice of opera, from Rigoletto to La Traviata, as a recurring setting is not a whim nor is their reminder on the soundtrack that heartbreak and worse lay ahead. No one in the movies reads Dostoyevsky unless they’re on a similar fate. He also resorts to an unneeded punctuation in the form of a fantasy sequence to remind us of how placing guilt in check can be the greatest infidelity of all. After nearly two hours, you already had us thinking, Woody, and it’s the only true misstep on an otherwise great film.

Match Point recalls Patrick Marber’s Closer, although without the frequent dissection of what being in a relationship actually means. Meyers is absolutely terrific as the social climber leaving his conscience behind with each succeeding step. It is impossible to feel for such a slyly hateful character yet, like Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley without the sociopathic tendencies, we somehow empathize since part of us would at least THINK of the same decisions. The funniest thing about Match Point comes in the inspiration that brought Woody to do it. After years of Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Hollywood Ending and Anything Else, for Woody to show us not that he’s still got it, but that he’s able to turn out material that seems as old as he is and find the angle that can still make it as fresh as Manhattan seemed over 25 years ago, is one vow that he hasn’t broken to his fans.

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originally posted: 12/23/05 17:32:17
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User Comments

11/10/15 David H. A very sexy Hitchcockian throwback. 5 stars
8/14/15 Langano Very good. 4 stars
8/09/10 Monday Morning A better Hitchcock movie than any Hitchcock movie. 5 stars
11/23/08 Samantha Pruitt very effective, keeps you on the edge of your seat, great acting! 5 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
11/16/07 Luisa Great Movie! Suspenseful...erotic... 4 stars
5/15/07 David Pollastrini Scarlett Looks hot in this! 3 stars
1/24/07 Christopher Best movie of 2005, Allen at his best. Loved every minute of this classic. Watch it. 5 stars
9/16/06 Grets A fine film with Scarlett gorgeous but ending somewhat lazy 4 stars
6/04/06 Indrid Cold Given the generic plot, it's about as good as it could be. Nothing to write home about. 4 stars
6/02/06 Phil M. Aficionado So-so. Well made and acted. But it left me cold and I don't care enough to ponder why. 3 stars
5/09/06 Monday Morning Great tension and surprising twists; but it could have been tightened up for sake of pace. 4 stars
5/08/06 Josephine i really liked this movie, it was something different not your regular love affair 5 stars
4/23/06 Mase Slow thriller, unlikable characters you just don't care about. Expected more, sorry. 3 stars
4/22/06 margotkidding Overhyped. Well executed, but none of the characters is recognizably human. 3 stars
4/04/06 Jenny Tullwartz The role ScarletJohansen was born for -- a botch who gets shit --uh, a bitch who gets shot. 3 stars
3/07/06 john bale Woody back in form - albeit with Hitchcock overtones. 4 stars
2/28/06 sbpat21 brilliant; a masterpiece 5 stars
2/25/06 PAG Most underrated move of 2005. Great movie. 5 stars
2/23/06 Koitus GREAT movie! Finally, a "movie for ADULTS." Scarlett beautiful as ever. 5 stars
2/18/06 jcjss so fine, clever, neat, fun, rascal, hot, smart, visually fine, edtied great, acting wow 5 stars
2/07/06 Elizabeth S A terrific role for the always excellent Jonathan Rhys Meyers! 4 stars
1/25/06 Mike V Best Woody Allen Movie in years 4 stars
1/23/06 astrotart I thought I saw this already on Lifetime? 2 stars
1/23/06 Andrew Phillips It's the director who tries to get away with murder. 2 stars
1/21/06 Ole Man Bourbon Crap. A chore. You banged Sun Yi, get over it, we're sick of hearing about it. 2 stars
1/19/06 karen and liz lil romeo is so sexy 5 stars
1/18/06 marty derivative, shaggy dog story 2 stars
1/10/06 John an extremly tense and well put together thriller - impressive 5 stars
1/09/06 C. Hilton Lousy - no redeeming value - 1 stars
1/09/06 Gil Carlson Great film, has depth and movement. Makes you think afterwards. 5 stars
12/30/05 Jim The Movie Freak Welcome back Woody. It only took you 20 years! 5 stars
12/29/05 simolife24 cinema 4 stars
12/29/05 Bruce Bethany A masterpiece Hitchcock might envy. 5 stars
12/20/05 Ray Superb 5 stars
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  28-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006

  06-Jan-2006 (12A)


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