As a life long Woody Allen devotee, I’ve let him slide. Sure, Small Time Crooks, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Hollywood Ending, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda are total and utter shit… but, just before those we had Sweet and Lowdown, Deconstructing Harry, Everyone Says I Love You, etc. etc. etc. So, y’know, the guys made sixty movies, is seventy years old, and has been butchered in the press for the better part of ten years now. But, you always hope that he’s going to come back from it.
Match Point’s at least a step in the right direction. Aside from two big problems, the movies pretty excellent. The third act does a lot of good to fix what’s not so good in the beginning, leaving you with a sense that the movie is much better than it actually is. The directing is incredible. The shots and editing are master classes in film making, and it shows that Woody is every bit the filmmaker his idols Fellini and Bergman are. The spare use of music, the delicate use of location and letting… it’s really pretty outstanding.
Then there’s the two problems.
The first is actually not so much a problem as a sticking point. Everyone points out the similarities with Crimes and Misdemeanors… Well… I’d say it teeters on the edge of being a remake, or as their known now a ‘reimagining’ of the movie. It’s achingly similar. And while Dina, who’s never seen C&M enjoyed the movie well enough, it nagged at me throughout.
Secondly, and there’s no easy way to say this. Scarlett Johansson is positively atrocious. Every scene she’s in the movie loses steam and chemistry, the inevitablity inherent in the story instead feels like formula all because of her less than one-note performance (a semi-tone performance?) She’s gorgeous. Really, really sexy. And has the presence of a three day old Sea Bass Special at Norm’s. The scene’s where Rhys-Myers is ‘over-come’ with his desire for her become caricatures rather than eruptions of passion. And it’s not just a stylistic thing. She’s so out of place in the movie, and completely and utterly out-acted by everyone around her that it really, really hurts the film overall.
It’s definitely the best movie Woody’s made since Sweet and Lowdown, but, it doesn’t capture the uniqueness nor mastery of that film by any means. Instead, you’re left with a fairly successful pot-boiler with one extremely bad performance. Worth a rent, though.