Saturday, June 28, 2008

Love Game: Match Point

A perfectly sinister guilt drama from Woody Allen, whose peak seems to have actually hit right now. He introduces a new type of character into his complex affair: a sort of slick but ultimately extremely guilty guy. He is Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers of Bend it Like Beckham) a tennis pro turned instructor, who has just accepted his teaching job when Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) takes lessons with him. He is part of a rich, high class family. Chris then meets Chloe (Emily Mortimer of Dear Frankie), who is Tom's sister. She falls head over heels in love with him, and he loves her, until he becomes entranced by the struggling but feisty actress Nola (Scarlett Johanson), who is Tom's fiancee. Their first scene is perfect: she is playing ping-pong and he steps in and their proverbial ping-pong/tennis match begins with a bang as they go back and forth. The two leave lasting impressions on each other, and they fall in love. Then, Chris and Chloe marry. And just after, the bomb drops: Tom and Nola are calling it off. So Chris is tempted, and thinks that Chloe is getting boring, so he starts seeing Nola and soon she is pregnant. This is the major source of tension, as Chris must choose between his rich life, pampering family, and guaranteed job, and his lust. Chloe, meanwhile, does kind of suspect something is up, but Allen's formula rules that out. About that: Allen's ideas have been the same lately. He focuses in on murder and guilt. He does his directing extremely well in this film, while providing a great, innuendo-filled, Oscar-nominated script. (SPOILER ALERT) The film does sort to drive to the same end like his others, as Chris, feeling guilty about his situation and not being able to bring himself to tell his wife, goes to Nola's apartment, and not only fakes a break-in and kills her neighbor but kills her too. And he feels like crap and all, but he believes it is the only way to go. He gets called in by a detective and is heavily suggested as the murderer, but one of his actions saves him. When he was casting off Nola's elderly neighbor's jewelry into the waters of London, Chris accidentally tosses her ring towards the depths, but the ring hits the barrier and stays on land (recalling thoughts of the opening tennis monologue). A murder in the area shows that this ring was being carried by the drug-addled killer (Chris' break-in was classified as a drug murder). Anyways, this elaborates things and makes the detective (who woke up with a hunch that Chris was the one) look like a dreamer, setting Chris free and intertwining Allen's famous getting away endings with the movie itself. Great stuff. Also, Meyers turns in a spectacular performance, one that makes a movie and takes it to great heights. Johanson isn't quite so, but is good as the actress, with personality and a drive, unlike Hayley Atwell in Cassandra's Dream, which really is eerily similar. Anyways, the tennis theme and the double entendres set this movie apart. Bottom line: Allen may be known for such movies as Annie Hall and Manhattan, but this one is really up there. Game, set, and match. A

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