An interesting story can always be based on eternal debates like, for example, fate versus luck. Woody Allen’s latest picture, Match Point, discusses this very question in a sly, angst and suspense-filled masterpiece set against the backdrop of upper class London.
Match Point Movie Review
Allen, writer and director of Match Point, takes a unique approach: it is clear, through a series of highly suspenseful yet completely probable events that what the protagonist (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Chris Wilton) ventures into is driven by the allusion of comfort and glamour that comes with wealth. He reads Dostevsky so that he has a smart discussion at the ready. He studies tennis and hunting because that, apparently, is what wealthy Londonites do with their spare time.
Allen opens the film with a shot of a tennis net and a ball that, Chris explains, can either fall back in your lap, or, bounce over to the opponents side thus winning the match out of sheer…luck? A replicated scene near the end hammers in this point effortlessly with a devious twist.
Chris is an obviously underprivileged tennis ace who cons and flatters his way into London’s higher society, entering the Hewett family where he courts Chloe (an always dead-on Emily Mortimer), befriends her brother (Tom) (Mathew Goode), and soon accepts a job working for their father (Alec) (Brian Cox) as one of his suave associates with a personal chauffeur. He seems on the right track for financial and social success until he meets Tom’s fiancée, an American aspiring actress named Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson). Chris pursues Nola because, after all, she is one thing that belongs to someone else. She epitomizes the power and appeal Chris has ardently sought, and so far, won. Their affair is quick and fierce and ends when Nola returns to American after being dumped by Tom only to end up back in London several months later when the two carry on at a more ardent pace. As one might expect, the affair only lasts so long before an previously independent Nola becomes needy, clingy, messy—all that threaten Chris’s carefree London lifestyle.
With an outstanding script and well cast ensemble, Allen drives the film seamlessly through Chris’s tangled mess of pursuits arriving at a place not as different from where he actually began. Up to this point, one might say that Chris has received only that which is owed him. Alec agrees, he has “taken what was given to him” and moved up admirably. So when duty calls to reconcile the difficulties now plaguing him, Chris chooses a path not many would agree with or consider appropriate.
Scarlett Johansson in Match Point
A wonderfully climatic scene three-quarters of the way through the film characterizes Chris in a way that is shocking, reasonable, and brutally honest. Allen leaves the audience knowing the reasons why and why not and an overwhelming sense of disclosure that epitomizes the debate I mentioned before. The movie leaves a bad taste in ones mouth but only out of sheer cunning and emotive mastery.
Several critics have heralded Match Point as Allen’s return to form and his greatest film in over decade. Having missed his last Say Anything and Melinda and Melinda, I am not much of a judge myself; I simply declare Match Point is one of the best films I have seen this year.
Directed by Wood Allen
Written by Woody Allen
Chris Wilton: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Nola Rice: Scarlett Johansson
Chloe Hewett: Wilton: Emily Mortimer
Tim Hewett: Mathew Goode
Alec Hewett: Brian Cox
Eleanor Hewett: Penelope Wilton