Match Point review
by: Cara Wides - Last updated: 2006-01-10
Woody Allen's latest offering Match Point is a far cry from his famous belly-laugh inducing movies such as Annie Hall and Small Time Crooks.
Indeed, a viewer who didn't know it was one of Allen's flicks may not recognise it as his work. However, even though the film lacks the wit that one might hope for, it has something new - suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The central premise of the film is that life is a game of chance - every thing that happens could just as easily have happened the opposite way. This is illustrated with the opening shot of a tennis ball hovering over a net (the 'Match Point') - and we are meant to infer that it is pure chance which side the ball drops.
This metaphor is illustrated in a plot centring around Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a former tennis pro from a working class Irish background, who marries into a wealthy English family to move up in the world.
The first part of the film paints a picture of his dramatic change in lifestyle - caviar-based meals, shooting weekends on the family country estate, and a foot in the door in a powerful glamorous company.
His wife Chloe (Emily Mortimer) is a sweet-natured, girlish type, a complete contrast to Nola (Scarlett Johansson) the forthright, passionate fiancé of his brother-in-law Tom (the excellent Matthew Goode). Chris, who is shown to be cold and calculating from the beginning, embarks on an affair with Nola, to express a lust he isn't able to in his marriage.
Circumstances that follow turn the rest of the film into a thriller, where Allen drives home his theme of chance governing our lives. The plot is develops impressively, with interesting twists, and there is no doubt that Allen makes his point.
However is it worth it at the expense of humour, and by creating a central character in Chris who inspires no warmth in the cinema-goer? Other criticisms that this reviewer has are that the dialogue seems contrived at times, and with the exception of Chloe and Tom, the characters are depressingly dislikeable.
It is interesting to see Allen taking on London, but as a Londoner I wish he managed to find more humour, and sympathetic personalities in a city which is every bit as beautiful as Manhattan, Allen's former stomping ground.