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Match Point (2005)

January 28, 2010

VERDICT:
8/10 Wives’ Worst Nightmares

One sexy and cruel little bastard of a movie. Not your typical Woody.

Match Point is about a tennis pro in England that starts up an affair with his soon to be brother-in-law’s fiance’ – which is naughty and kept hidden – while already developing a open relationship with his brother-in-law’s sister – which is warmly embraced by all.  Since monogamy is the relationship of choice in this situation, the tennis pro eventually has to let one of them go, and that’s when things get really crazy.

If you’re walking into this expecting Sleeper or Bananas, I’m afraid you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This is not a funny movie and there is little wit to be found that doesn’t carry some heavy-handed sexual undertones along with it. Match Point is about a bad dude with a horribly warped moral compass and there’s not much to admire about him outside of his being one of the best liars in movie history. Guy could punch you in the face and convince you that you did it to yourself, and after five minutes, you’d totally believe him.

Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but this is some new territory for Woody Allen. He’s never been exactly famous for his efforts in the erotic thriller genre, but apparently he’s had it in him all along. While I can’t really say much to Woody’s visual style other than that this movie look awfully crisp, I’ve always found that Woody’s largest strength as film maker was in his writing and the visuals always kinda played into what was in the script to begin with, like some of the more memorable scenes from Annie Hall that get into what men and women are really thinking rather than what they’re actually doing or saying.

But that’s for another review.

Woody’s dialogue here is great and steamier than a Turkish bath, it’s all about the characters and his characters are endlessly watchable, and some of the plot twists will leave you watching this thing mouth agape. The whole analogy between tennis and luck is also pretty cool (e.g: the ball hits the top of the net, could fall down on either side and win you the point or lose you the point; you get the gist), if somewhat unnecessary.

But what’s most intriguing about Match Point is that this sucker is borderline evil and it revels in every minute of it. Not a huge fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but his character, Chris Wilton – our anti-hero of the hour – is one mean mofo. He’s got the art of manipulation down to a science, he’s dead set on having his cake and eating it in front of everyone’s faces without them even knowing and it’s not long before you realize that this dude needs a good hearty dose of comeuppance. But that’s what’s different about Match Point, Chris is our villain and he’s our main character. He’s not very likable, but you can’t help but see how he weasels himself out of each new situation until everything comes to a head. You want him to get caught so bad, but he’s not stupid when it comes to these kinds of things and luck is very much on his side.

I’m sure it’ll leave a bad taste in some folks’ mouths, but that’s actually one of its selling points. Match Point isn’t a safe movie and it’ll rightfully leave you shaken up. Nobody wins in these kinds of situations, but it helps to have a stone cold heart.

Also features a pretty good performance by Scarlett Johansson as Chris’ back door woman, Nola. Still think she’s more eye candy than anything else, and when she yells she sounds like a guy, but hey, good character who doesn’t take very well to playing second fiddle to anyone. Well-written role, decent casting choice.

Match Point really is something else though. There’s tons of great erotic thrillers out there, but this one feels new in both its tone and plot. It’s not the feel-good movie of ’05 by any means, but if you’re up for some crazy shit involving some crazy people, this one’s a winner. Who knew Woody had such an awesome mean streak? 

And Brian Cox is in it, too. Might just be the best movie ever now.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 10:49 am

    It’s probably ScarJo’s best performance and my favourite Woody of the last decade. Not a feel good one indeed, but still quite good.

  2. January 28, 2010 5:05 pm

    I’m not gonna lie but this is probably favorite Woody Allen film, next to Bullets Over Broadway.

  3. January 28, 2010 6:40 pm

    I’ve never been a big fan of Allen’s before this came out(still haven’t seen Manhattan though). This is an excellent suburban thriller.

    Great new banner btw.

    • January 28, 2010 7:14 pm

      Thanks, man. I still need to see Manhattan, too; been on my queue for ages. Sleeper is great if you’ve never seen it, Annie Hall ain’t so bad either.

  4. January 29, 2010 11:57 am

    I absolutely love this movie. It really surprised me when I saw it for the first time. So evil and yet so clever and great!

  5. bfielder@hotmail.com permalink
    June 12, 2011 5:10 pm

    It’s junk, London shows only landmarks, as dumb as a british director compressing New York into only the recognisable bits. The family are ludicrous, completely misjudged stereotypes, wastrel son, pheasant shooting industrialist, they only exist in the imaginations of those who aren’t british. The coincidences are silly and point up the folly of using a script written for NY in an english setting. Two shootings in London would be headline news nationally and mobilise the entire police force, DNA would prove she was pregnant and who the father was, starting to show too, double shooting are really, really unusual. The chances of it, another shooting, happening again are laughable. Drug dealers and burglars don’t use shotguns and where the ring was found is light years from where the robberies took place. The plot would be entirely plausible in NY but not in London, gun crime except between black on black teenage gangs, is really really rare and hardly any involves shotguns. Interesting isn’t it that British critics panned it and let’s face it if a brit took a london based script and set it in NY it would be silly, imagine 4 weddings and a funeral in NY. Silly beyond belief.

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