Woody Allen in Britain Movie Review: Match Point

Hey Folks! I’m back with the blog!  Since my last post a ton of stuff has happened with me in moving across the country, starting a new job, studying for a test, and just general laziness. I’m going to try and keep this blog semi-updated, but it can get pretty hard to do that.

Considered to be Woody Allen’s big comeback, 2005’s “Match Point”, brought Allen his greatest critical acclaim since the Mid-1980s and also featured his first collaboration with Scarlett Johansson.  When this first came out, I refused to see it due to the fact that I liked to think of myself as a snob and that I also don’t like Allen’s movies when he doesn’t act in them.  Seriously, with the exception of “Purple Rose of Cairo”, all of Woody’s non-acting movies have been snooze-fests.  “Interiors”? Snooze. “Melinda and Melinda” snooze. You get the idea.  When watching “Match Point” I was expecting a similar snooze fest, but I was surprised at how interesting Allen’s ideas were and how it really did represent a return to form after Allen’s string of commercial and critical failures in the early 2000s (Even though I liked Small Time Crooks, that was a good movie!).

“Match Point” is ultimately a morality tale about how bad people can often times get away with things due to the forces of the universe.  Call this luck, karma, God-given intervention or whatever, this idea is the main theme of the movie and is hammered home numerous times.  Our Protagonist is Chris Wilton (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), a working class tennis-pro who meets a rich family and becomes engaged to sweet but boring Chloe (Emily Mortimer).  While it looks like Chris is set up to have a comfortable life style, he happens to meet Nola (Johansson), who is passionate, sexy, ad mysterious.  After their initial meeting, their relationship becomes extremely volatile, which will lead to an explosive final confrontation.

As I said earlier, the role of luck plays a prominent role in this movie.  Many times Chris mentions how we are not in control of our actions, but how instead it is through luck.  One of the opening shots of the movie, with a voice over by Chris, explains how a tennis ball once it hits the net can either go forward and be lucky break to the server or fall backwards, ultimately proving that we as humans are always beholden to lucky breaks.  The idea of lucky breaks, even comes back to the film’s finale where after Chris’s child is born with Chloe, his brother-in-law states that he wishes his nephew to be “lucky” instead of hard-working.  This shows simple comment shows what Allen thinks of the universe and how we as humans are ultimately shaped by luck.

Watching this movie 10 years after it was released, I was struck at how much I enjoyed it.  Johansson’s character is the closest that a Woody Allen has had in a femme fatale, and I liked the Noirish elements that he brought to the film.  This is definitely a movie that deserves to be talked about within his canon along with “Annie Hall” and his other classics.

3 1/2 out of 4 stars.


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