Friday, December 30, 2005

Match Point

Match Point is an interesting character study of a somewhat unscrupulous man trying to get everything he wants, without having to do too any real work. It’s just a little too predictable for my tastes, but it is very well done. Everything that happens in the first ten minutes foreshadows all that will happen the final hour and forty-five. Even small moments in the plot are given away well before the scene ends (or in some cases, even begin).

Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a former tennis player turned tennis pro at an exclusive club. There he meets Tom (Matthew Goode) and strikes up a friendship with Tom and his family. He starts dating Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) and becomes a favorite of his father (Brian Cox) and mother (Penelope Wilton).

The problem is Chris falls madly in love with American actress Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson) who Tom is dating. From their first moments on screen together you know the whole affair is going to end bloody.

The film is well cast and the performances from all are first rate. Brian Cox provides a nice supporting role as the loving and doting father and Mortimer works well as the loving, but needy, Chloe. The films best role goes to Rhys-Meyers as the complicated and scheming Chris who wants the security and wealth of his marriage but can’t ignore his lust for Nola.

Johansson gives us a complex woman, who knows her effect on men and uses it to her advantage. Though I did find her performance too whiney in the last act. Both flawed main characters are very human in their need for passionate love and their inability for emotional commitment and responsibility.

It’s nice to see Woody Allen moving away from the same types of movies he has made in recent years (The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Anything Else, Small Time Crooks, Celebrity) and make something different; though fans of Crimes and Misdemeanors may find it a little too similar.

This is a hard movie for me to review because of how well it is made must be balanced at how predictable and telegraphed the film is. I sat down to watch the film a second time to make up my mind. What I’m left with is this: Match Point is a lovingly made film by a great director and, although quite flawed, is still worth a first and even second look.

Is it Woody Allen’s best work? No, but it is better than his recent entries and shows he still has stories left to tell. He finally seems to be back on the right track. Not a must-see by any means, but a good film by an American icon that I think you will be able to enjoy despite its flaws.

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