Woody Allen’s best picture in over a decade, Match Point proves that the 70 year old director ain’t over the hill yet. His new film is a dark, brooding examination of ambition and obsession, its tone most closely echoing his much older flicks Interiors and Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The two central characters, Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead) and Nola (Scarlett Johansen – The Island) are part fraudulent, part lost. They’re both trying to survive in upper class circles so far from home, and both of them (metaphorically) feel the need to wear masks. Only time will tell which of them will drop the pretence first.
Myers unfortunately never looks trustworthy, so it’s hard to believe that the family would take him in without suspicion, no matter how polite and dapper he is. His performance nonetheless is riveting. Johansson seems to relish a role which has her making several back flips, sometimes within the same day.
The change of scenery is probably the most notable feature of Allen’s new film, as we find ourselves in the most exclusive circles of London, rather than his usual New York digs. It also features some CGI, which was an unexpected pleasure (and a slight distraction cos it wasn’t very good). The simple black and white opening titles are the same however, as is the recurring use of a single piece of music instead of a more traditional score. It would be great for Allen to continue experimenting, especially considering how his last few films invoked a deep sense of déjà vu.
Match Point echoes ‘Crime and Punishment’ – with one scene that could almost be considered homage – and to a lesser extent ‘Macbeth’. This isn’t strange at all when you consider Mighty Aphrodite had a Greek chorus popping up periodically to comment on proceedings. Frustratingly, Match Point comes close to being immaculate, but falters slightly late in the piece. Whilst I have no qualms about the plot, the film stumbles in the last reel, as there is a distinct change of pace. These awkward scenes somehow don’t quite fit the rest of the film. This isn’t enough, however, to ruin the overall effect of this insidiously sinister film that will be remembered as one of Allen’s best.Rating: