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Match Point

Some say Match Point marks writer/director Woody Allen's return to excellence. Maybe so, but it's really more of a reminder on how deliciously screwed up he can be.


No, Match Point isn't about tennis--well, not in the traditional sense anyway. It's more a metaphor, revolving around a pivotal moment in the life of one-time tennis pro Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). You see, he's grown tired of the pro-circuit life and wants something different in his life. As luck would have it, he meets and marries the very rich Chloe Hewett (Emily Mortimer) and is soon exposed to the kind of money and success he always dreamed of having. But he's still restless, leaving the door wide open for the impossibly beautiful and alluring Nola (Scarlett Johansson) to step through. Their (fatal?) attraction turns into an obsessive affair--when do they not?--which inevitably forces Chris to make a critical choice. It doesn't end well, I can tell you that.


Match Point's players may have Woody Allen-esque tendencies, but in the hands of the mostly British cast, it's quite a different experience. First there's Rhys Meyers (TV's Elvis). With piercing, deep-set eyes and pouty lips, he plays Chris brilliantly calm, even as he's doing the most despicable things. Mortimer (Dear Frankie) and Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty), as Chloe's brother and Nola's former fiancée, are also quite good as a pair of stable Brits, keeping things in perspective. And then there's the sumptuous Johansson, the troublesome Yank whose making the British men go ga-ga. It's quite obvious Allen himself fell slightly in love with his young ingénue, as he frames her in picturesque tableaus again and again. But when things start to go very sour in the affair, Johansson's Nola comes the closest to the classic Woody Allen neurotic--paranoid, obsessive and handing down ultimatums.


Woody in London! Who would have thought he'd ever leave New York? The 70 year-old director, for whatever reason, has found a new place to fall in love with, filming the British capital with as much tender loving care as he did with his beloved Big Apple. Maybe it was the change of scenery that also finally kicked Allen in the butt and inspired him to write something meaty again. I mean, we all know he has issues, which he's always managed to work out on film, but Match Point is the dark side of Woody we don't see too often. To be perfectly honest, after watching the film, it's a little scary to think about exactly what goes on in the man's head. The film slips up, however, in its similarities with the director's far more superior Crimes and Misdemeanors. It could be Allen--whose made countless films and vows to continue to make a movie a year, no matter what--may have finally used up all his originality. Point. Set. Match.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 stars.