Match Point - Review
Review by Jack Foley
WOODY Allen may have been forced to serve up a different location for his latest film but the results remain curiously wide of the bassline in terms of authenticity and enjoyment.
London replaces New York as the location of choice, while humour is dispatched in favour of tragedy. Yet while Match Point represents Allen’s most serious film in years, it is laughably bad in places continuing the slump in form that the veteran director has been experiencing this past decade.
Needless to say, the game of tennis is paramount to the plot, serving as both a metaphor and a catalyst for the game to begin.
Allen suggests at the start of the movie that tennis, like life, is often governed by luck – a key moment in both can be governed by the slightest moment of it (be it good or bad).
We are then introduced to Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ ambitious former tennis pro, Chris Wilton, a poor lad from Ireland who has bettered himself the hard way.
After securing a job teaching tennis at a posh London club, he meets Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), a rich socialite who shares a passion for opera, and the two quickly bond.
Chris is immediately welcomed into Tom’s upper-class family and soon becomes romantically entangled with his sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer) – although he doesn’t really seem that interested.
Their relationship is put to the test, however, when Chris is introduced to Tom’s fiancee, Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), whom he promptly becomes obsessed with to the point that they have a fling.
By the time their passion burns out, Chris has married Chloe and secured a top job at her family’s company and will stop at nothing to prevent news of his affair with Nola slipping out.
But once Nola announces she is pregnant and threatens to spill the beans, Chris is forced to resort to desperate measures to preserve his new-found place in society.
Taking Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment as his inspiration, Allen sets Match Point to an operatic score and allows the tragedy to unfold on a grand scale.
Yet his film remains so implausible and inadvertently funny that it’s impossible to take seriously, particularly as the contrivances start piling up.
Allen’s depiction of the Hewett family, in particular, is sloppy, appearing as an American’s view of an English upper-class family based on tacky period dramas from yesteryear (or the London-based Friends episode, which was similarly misguided).
They are either naive (in the case of Brian Cox’s under-employed father), borderline alcoholic (Penelope Wilton’s mother), or pompous and self-obsessed, spouting lines like ‘yummy’ after ordering their food in swish restaurants (Goode’s Tom).
His central protagonists fare little better, with the usually charismatic Mortimer reduced to the role of a whining wife, Johansson a sex object for Allen to undress as he sees fit and Meyers as a cold and unsympathetic anti-hero.
By the time the film switches from a melodrama to a thriller and James Nesbitt’s detective is introduced, the film has lost any grip it may have had on its audience.
Allen’s ‘ace’ is a supposedly brilliant twist ending but it merely makes an already terrible film seem even more preposterous.
The net result is a major disappointment.
Running time: 2hrs 10mins