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Match Point (2005)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks)
Genres:
Drama, Psychological Drama, Romantic Drama
Director:
Woody Allen Woody Allen
Starring:
Jonathan Rhys Meyers Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Alexander Armstrong Alexander Armstrong
Paul Kaye Paul Kaye
Matthew Goode Matthew Goode
Brian Cox Brian Cox
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7.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: January 31, 2006
What happens when one of the most celebrated directors of all-time starts going downhill faster than a bobsled? Well, "Small Time Crooks" happens...and "Hollywood Ending" happens...and the absolutely dreadful "Anything Else" happens. Most people are calling "Match Point" Woody Allen's return to form, but I thought his previous film, "Melinda & Melinda" was incredibly enjoyable - his best since "Sweet & Lowdown". The important thing is - Woody Allen is not dead by any means. He is still capable of crafting amazing motion pictures unlike anything out there on the market today. "Match Point" is one such film, a thriller that is totally unlike anything Woody Allen has ever directed before, and will likely ever direct again. When you listen to the dialogue, you can hear Woody Allen all over the words, but this is such a huge leap in terms of content and execution. Allen manipulates the viewer here, giving us set-ups that seem certain to end in disaster, but wind up doing the exact opposite. He presents us with characters that would normally not be very likable at all, though they eventually find themselves in our good graces. "Match Point" is a phenomenal film and the best Woody Allen project since "Bullets Over Broadway".

Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a former tennis pro who takes a job giving lessons at a local country club. He soon meets Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), a wealthy upper class-man who strikes up a friendship with his instructor. Chris is immediately thrust into the world of the rich and the powerful, making friends with Tom's parents (Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton), and striking up a relationship with Tom's sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer). Everything is going smashingly until Chris meets Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), Tom's fiance. Chris feels an immediate attraction to Nola and they eventually start seeing one another behind the backs of their loved ones. This affair continues barreling down a trail as Chris continues testing his relationship with his wife. The entire plot of the film centers around an opening narration from Chris, concerning a tennis ball and how, when it hits the net, it can either go over, or not. Luck has everything to do with "Match Point" and all the characters within. At first, it is a little difficult to see what Woody Allen is doing with this idea of 'luck', but he eventually kicks it into high gear and we realize what he has been doing all along. The final half hour of this film is one of the most expertly directed pieces I have ever seen from any director. Allen's execution is flawless and the audience is left, mouths agape.

It was so nice to see another masterful effort from the great Woody Allen. I am so thrilled he has started testing the waters of other genres. "Match Point" is, by every definition, a thriller. It reminded me of another film from 2005, "Separate Lies", another incredible piece of cinema. Woody Allen's film works slightly better because it never really asks us to care about any of the characters in the film. Chris is a sordid individual who only cares about himself. Nola is an egocentric American girl who wants everything she can't have. And, the Hewett's, with the exception of Brian Cox, are typical British upperclassmen. There isn't a single character you really grow to sympathize with in this film. Emily Mortimer is really the victim, but even she can get a little annoying, at times, especially when she is desperately trying to conceive a child. "Match Point" offers lots and lots of questions, and very few answers, and that works to its advantage. By the end of the film, when all was said and done, I was glad the film ended how it did. I didn't want the logical to happen. I wanted this film to end on a Woody Allen note, and it certainly did. Critics have been calling this the most accessible Woody Allen film in years, and I would have to agree with that. I consider any film of this high caliber to be extraordinarily accessible to everyone.

In terms of performances, Woody Allen is always able to extract some amazing depth from his actors, and "Match Point" is no exception. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, in what is really his first truly leading role, is perfect for Chris Wilton, as if the role were written just for him. He has the face of someone who is hiding someone, and he finds all the right levels of emotion. He is not a bad person as much as he is someone who has had a rough life and wants security however he can find it. Is that so wrong? Scarlett Johansson, in yet another Oscar worthy performance, turns on a dime as Nola Rice, starting out as the girlfriend who doesn't want to risk losing her lover, to a scheming and hysterical 'other woman' who seems determined to stay in the picture, no matter what. In strong supporting turns, the entire Hewett family deliver - Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer, Brian Cox, and Penelope Wilton; though, it was exceptionally nice to see Penelope Wilton once again in top form. Most people only know her as Shaun's mother from "Shaun of the Dead", and that is a shame, because she is one of the finest actresses working today. It was also nice to see Brian Cox play a character that was not a villain. He really plays the most decent character in the film.

So, congratulations to Woody Allen for yet another stunning cinematic achievement. I am not quite sure if "Match Point" will receive the recognition it deserves come Oscar time - I highly doubt it will, but I do hope Allen can pick up a nod for Best Original Screenplay, and maybe Best Director. I would love to see Rhys-Meyers and Johansson grab nods too, but it is unlikely. "Match Point" was a film that did what no other Woody Allen film has done - it thrilled. It is one of the best films of 2005, and would have made my Top Ten List, had I seen the film a couple of months ago. Here's a project for you all - go rent four Woody Allen films - "Annie Hall", "Sleeper", "Bullets Over Broadway", and "Sweet & Lowdown". Then, run out and see "Match Point". If you can honestly tell me Woody Allen is not one of the five greatest directors of all-time, I will send you a free copy of "Anything Else" to remind you that even the best directors slip up every now and again.

10/10.
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grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 05/22/2008, 11:14 PM
This is by far one of my favorite movies, and certainly my favorite Woody Allen film.. I bought it as soon as it hit DVD and I think I honestly watch it atleast once every 2 months.. It just feels so right. 10/10
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