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Match Point Movie Poster

Match Point

Genre: Drama/Crime Thriller
Rated: R
Directed by
: Woody Allen
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode
Released by:
DreamWorks Pictures

In Short: Allen rehashes old plots and themes in a new setting, with completely predictable results.

A Game Already Played
This Re-"Match" is a Pale Imitation
By Jenny Peters

As Woody Allen's latest film "Match Point" unfolds, one gets a distinct feeling of déjà vu. Haven't we seen this same serious, no-laughs plot from the same filmmaker before? And the answer is yes, we have, in his much-superior effort, 1989's "Crimes and Misdemeanors." Sure, the setting is different, now London instead of New York, and Allen does not act in the film, settling for only directing and screenwriting this time. But the rest of it is so reminiscent of that earlier film that it is downright distracting.

Then there's "A Place in the Sun," the 1951 Elizabeth Taylor-Montgomery Clift classic adapted from Theodore Dreiser's 1925 novel An American Tragedy. If you know that film or novel, you're really in trouble. Allen has simply changed the setting from the American Midwest to the posh elite of London society, but has lifted the same story, reworking only the ending for his amoral protagonist. He's also tacked on the theme of luck as the determination of one's fate, but the basics are identical.

Chris Wilten (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a young, poor tennis pro (thus the film's title reference) who takes a job at an upper-class country club with the sole intention of seducing a rich young thing. He succeeds with Chloe Hewett (Emily Mortimer), a woman whose family is rich beyond belief. They get engaged, all's well, until Chloe's brother turns up with a fiancée of his own, Nola Rice (Scarlett Johannson), a sensuous, beautiful American who immediately ignites Wilten's passions. As we've seen so many times before, things go very badly when the pair's secret sexual relations escalate out of control, especially when he’s about to marry into all that money.

There are some pluses to "Match Point," including the across-the-board fine acting as well as the beautiful English settings, both city- and country-scapes that are visually spectacular. And the lack of Allen's usual dithering, neurotic persona is refreshing as well. But the plot itself is so derivative and predictable that there is no real tension in the piece. Any consistent movie watcher will know just what is going to happen way before the final scenes play out, and that makes for a very long two hours at the movies. It may help if opera is your favorite form of music, however; this time, Allen has left American jazz behind for Italian arias. In our case, that choice made one of the best parts of seeing a Woody Allen movie turn into one of the worst.

(Updated: 01/23/08 NJ)

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