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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.35%
Worth A Look51.09%
Average: 11.96%
Pretty Bad: 5.43%
Total Crap: 2.17%

9 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Match Point
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by William Goss

"The Games People Play"
4 stars

Scarlett Johansson is hot. This has been established as a universal truth. However, in 'Match Point,' the latest film written and directed by Woody Allen, she is smoldering, intoxicating, seductive, and a million other kinds of tempting. Then again, so is her character, Nola, who woos tennis instructor Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) as he gets married to Chloe (Emily Mortimer) and the lavish lifestyle provided by her parents.

However, when Chris decides that Nola isn’t worth the risk, she begs to differ, threatening to reveal their relationship to Chloe if he doesn’t. At this point, the tone shifts into thriller territory, as Chris determines how far he is willing to go to remain in the lap of luxury to which he has grown accustomed.

Wait. This is a Woody Allen film. What happened to the neurotic lead, the verbose wit, the bustling streets of Manhattan? Instead, Allen offers a crisp morality tale concerning the hierarchy of London society, as the lowly Chris is introduced to high society and then puts his new status at jeopardy by having a fling with Nola, who happens to be the fiancé of his brother-in-law (Matthew Goode).

Johansson delivers a scintillating, then scornful performance as Nola, exuding a cool confidence and undeniable allure beyond her years, a woman eventually driven by lust and jealousy above all things. She is countered by the understated Rhys-Meyers, who performs with a subdued, yet deliberate, sense of desire, whether for women or wealth. Goode and Mortimer manage to remain out of the loop, serving more as hurdles than anything else, and Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton make the most of their brief appearances Chloe’s parents, whether grooming Chris or disdaining Nola.

What makes Match Point so compelling is the absence of a traditional hero. With his first line of dialogue, the protagonist establishes his belief that “the man who said ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’ saw deeply into life.” This philosophy dictates his ambitious behavior, even if his actions only serve to keep him in good graces, no matter how costly the sacrifice. Save for the occasional operatic or literary reference, nothing distinguishes the film as a work of Allen’s. The English environment only reinforces that notion, particularly with their stricter establishment of class structure. Though it runs a bit long, no one scene seems extraneous. By the end, one can easily retrace every step that lead from Point A to Point B, which makes the ultimate destination all the more satisfying.

While 'Match Point' may be tart and taut, it isn’t exactly unique. The central moral dilemma is reminiscent of Allen’s own 'Crimes and Misdemeanors.' The detached determination of the main character is not unlike that of 'The Talented Mr. Ripley.' An art gallery rendezvous is similar to one in 'Closer.' Hell, the entire narrative arc of how far one adulterer will go to get away with his dirty deeds has been recycled as recently as last November’s painfully trite 'Derailed.' Despite all the parallels, 'Match Point' succeeds in the end because of how it is told: plain and simple.

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originally posted: 01/17/06 19:16:01
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User Comments

6/08/19 Anne Yuck; scenic London gave it the 2 stars 2 stars
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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