At the risk of employing an inappropriate sports metaphor, old Woody Allen ain't down for the count just yet with his new film, "Match Point." In fact, The Wood-ster looks to be going for another several rounds, or should I say, another game, set and match, at least, with this very snazzy movie of his.
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, whom we can now call "Elvis-lite," serves up smashing aces throughout this surprising film. Rhys-Meyers is Chris Wilton, an Irishman who seems more adept at social climbing than winning his way around on professional tennis courts, although he was no slouch on the tour he's just left. We meet up with him at the film's beginning just as he's begun the mundane routine of teaching tennis to wealthy Englishpersons.
One of them is Tom Hewett, played satisfyingly well by Matthew Goode. Tom is of the upper-class of London. His father is so rich, it's difficult to imagine any one in the Hewett family ever going without anything they might ever want for an entire lifetime. Tom invites Chris to family stuff. Tom's sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer) is instantly drawn to Chris. She's very sweet and semi-attractive. Tom also has a fiancee. Her name is Nola---I love that name. I also love the young woman who plays the part of Nola: Scarlett Johansson. You'll never guess in a million years that Chris is overwhelmed by Nola as he begins his romance and ultimate marriage to the very wealthy Chloe.
One negative thought comes to mind. Despite the fact that I love Scarlett Johansson and her June Allisonian voice, there are moments in a big spat scene with Rhys-Meyers she seems a bit out of her league. Twenty-one years on the planet may not have been enough for this bright, up-and-coming film star to have lived to convincingly emote the rage needed to counter Rhys-Meyers' vehemence. But when Allen's script requires Scarlett to smoulder, Scarlett smoulders.
"Match Point" is just about as good as any film of 2005, and there've been some pretty good ones this past year. I take this moment to mention my favorites: "Crash," "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "The History of Violence," "The Constant Gardener," "Capote," "Syriana" and, yes, "The 40 Year Old Virgin," It's what I call my Top Nine of 2005. (Links are to Gary's reviews...webmaster)
What's it all about, Woody? Is it just for the moment we live?
Gary Chew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2006, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.