You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger
Review by Jack Foley
WOODY Allen begins his latest film by quoting Shakespeare and preparing them for a tale of “sound and fury signifying nothing”. That quote tells you all you need to know about what ensues.
The third Allen film to be set in London, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a trademark tale of angst and uncertainty, albeit with a darker, more despairing outlook. It follows two married couples as they navigate life’s woes.
On the one hand, there’s Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin as Sally and Roy Channing, a constantly bickering couple who have both begun to develop roving eyes.
For Watts, temptation comes in the form of the art gallery owner (Antonio Banderas) she has been forced to work for to bring in much needed income, while for Brolin’s frustrated writer it is the beautiful young woman in red (Freida Pinto) he can see from his window every day.
The other couple is comprised of Anthony Hopkins’ and Gemma Jones’ Alfie and Helena Shebritch. It is Hopkins’ Alfie who begins the film by leaving Helena to rediscover his youth.
Hence, while Alfie pursues new love with a young object of desire (Lucy Punch), Helena is left to interfere with her daughter (Watts)’ life and start seeing a fortune teller (Pauline Collins), who predicts that she will meet the tall dark stranger of the title.
Allen’s film, while boasting a typically high calibre cast, stutters on several levels.
Emotionally cold and lacking in the humour that marks his most famous and celebrated work, it’s a fairly obvious film that often drifts into melodramatic soap opera territory.
It also represents a lot of hot air about nothing, while appearing particularly mean-spirited.
The performances vary, too, with only really Brolin and Banderas on form. The women are actually poorly written as either neurotic, manipulative or muses, while the men lack much depth.
Allen, for his part, does set up the possibility of some interesting plot dynamics, mostly involving Brolin’s character, but even in the film’s finest moments the lack of a single likeable character proves too big an obstacle for audiences to overcome.
Sadly, this is another sorry tale to add to the growing list of Allen flops.
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD Release: July 11, 2011