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Paul Greenwood

Published January 6th, 2006 | by Paul Greenwood

Match Point Review

Classification: 12A Director: Woody Allen Rating: 4/5

The fact that Match Point is being hailed as Woody Allen’s best film in years doesn’t actually count for a great deal when you consider that he hasn’t made a truly great film since 1989. That film was Crimes And Misdemeanours and maybe it’s no coincidence that there are many echoes of it here. But Match Point really is like no film Allen has ever made. At least Crimes And Misdemeanours was half a comedy – the only humour to be had here is irony of the most bitter and stinging kind.

Tennis coach Chris (Meyers) marries into the wealthy family of Chloe Hewett (Mortimer). Everything is on a plate for him – a good job at his father in law’s company, a chauffeur and a home and lifestyle well funded by the Hewett fortune. But an affair with his brother in law’s fiance, American actress Nola (Johansson) threatens to unravel everything. With the affair becoming more intense and less in control, Chris is torn between his comfortable existence and his passionate secret life.

Match Point is a vicious tale of greed, deceit and fate – Crimes And Misdemeanours without the morality if you like. Instead Allen suggests that many things in life effectively hinge on the toss of a coin, that the right or wrong bit of luck at the right or wrong time can be the difference between success and failure. It’s a major departure for him and an intriguing concept on which he hangs the entire outcome of this gripping black thriller, with a twist of fate of such devilish elegance that you can’t help but smile.

Stylistically, Allen makes an interesting choice by making everything very natural, as though we’re eavesdropping on conversations rather than watching actors perform – characters speak banalities and stumble over their words, but it works superbly. It’s slightly distracting to have the cream of British telly popping up in minor roles (James Nesbitt and Steve Pemberton as cops, Paul Kaye as an estate agent) but, as is usually the case with Allen, the acting is outstanding across the board. Johansson is electrifying in an unsympathetic role, Myers is as good as he’s ever been and Mortimer is suitably endearing. A sparkling return to form for one of the greats.


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