Bananas, or Take the Money and Run this ain’t. My goodness, this flick isn’t funny at all. As renowned film director Woody Allen, you know, that dude that married his wife’s daughter, descends upon the age of 70 I can only assume he is having visions of his own mortality as evident in the creation the dark and morbidly gloomy ‘Match Point’. It’s also Allen’s best film since the ‘Purple Rose of Cairo’ some twenty years earlier.
So in ‘Match Point’ we have Irish professional tennis player Chris Wilton, played by Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Myers, who has left the tour due to a lack of desire and has come into the employ of an exclusive British country club as one of their on staff tennis pros. One of his students, Tom Hewitt, takes a liking to him and invites him to an opera where he meets Tom’s sister Chloe. Chloe is instantly smitten by the handsome tennis pro and the two embark upon a solid if not passionless relationship. At least there is little passion on Chris’s side. He does, however, has a deep jones for Tom’s fiancée, the struggling American actress Nola Rice played by the always easy to look at Scarlet Johansson. This attraction sets forth series of unfortunate events and sets the tone for the film.
Chris’s view on life seems to be that life has no real meaning and our existence is pointless so go ahead do whatever, since there will be no consequences. However, his life with Chloe has given him direct access to Chloe’s father, his various companies and the life that he so obviously desires. A life he probably could have achieved through tennis, but apparently the effort / reward balance was not something this selfish, self-centered, greedy character was comfortable with. When his new opulent
lifestyle he has crafted with Chloe comes close to being disrupted, he seems to care a lot more than he thought he would. A WHOLE lot more.
The characters in Match Point are driven by what they believe they are entitled to, not by what they may deserve, and as a result there’s no one to really latch on to in this movie. Unless, of course, you’re a greedy, self-serving, narcissistic bastard. But that’s not the point, so pop in Return of the King if you’re looking for a hero, for you won’t find one here. The performances are subtle, yet very good, though Ms. Johansson does tend to grate a nerve. Nonetheless, she is fun to look at for a couple of hours regardless. The film is also dialog heavy, and though what the characters are saying can be interesting, it can also be condescending and trite as well.
The film is also probably far more intelligent than this Lethal Weapon loving, Die Hard watching, Transporter renting reviewer could possibly understand. With operatic arias playing as subtext under many of the scenes, I’m sure it means something. Of course, I don’t know what opera’s they are from and I don’t speak Italian, so they’re lost on me. Also many of the characters are prone to quote Sophocles or Dostoevsky to a greater meaning, again very heavy stuff. But what I did understand I liked and the dark mood of the film served itself very well.
So in it’s simplest form, Match Point is cautionary tale about the perils of cheating on your wife. A tale of infidelity as created by a man who married his wife’s daughter. I’m sure there’s some meaning in that as well.
Bud's Second Opinion: This movie is a character-based, dialogue-driven drama. None of the characters are "good" or even "decent" in any significant way, and as a consequence the movie is darkly melodramatic. But the characters are well-developed in this film (all are based on the theory that "it's better to be lucky than good"), and they are very interesting to watch. And while the dialogue that is the basis for the development of the story is long-winded and slow-developing at times, it is intelligent and worthwhile. I was also pleasantly surprised by how successfully the actors, as cast, were able to pull this movie off. I don't mean to be condescending, but I was pleasantly surprised with the solid performances of Jonathan Rhys-Myers and Scarlet Johansson; these characters easily were the most challenging roles these young actors had faced in their careers, and both delivered credible performances.
This is the first Woody Allen movie in the last 10-or-so years that I have actually enjoyed watching. I have found his recent movies to be condescending, and the characters trite. This film did not suffer either of those, and I was pleasantly surprised.
There were so many ways that this movie could have not worked, but in the end, the movie was very good. I do have one question for this movie, though: Why did the struggling-yet-unbelievably-sexy young actress from Colorado move to London to try to build her career?