Tulsa TV Memories      

"Match Point"
Review by Gary Chew

Matthew Goode and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Matthew Goode with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. No, it's not "Matchpoint Mountain"!

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

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.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Emily Mortimer Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson

Rhys-Meyers plays both sides of the court. Score: 30 million-Love.

So far, what we have here is your basic Woody Allen movie. You know: sex, romance, betrayal, guilt and passing comments about Fyodor Dostoyevsky; all involving very hip, liberal people who are smart enough to know they must go and see the film, "Motorcycle Diaries." And then...well, I'm not going to tell what happens after that. Just know that you won't lose interest. As you anticipate what Mr. Allen is up to next with "Match Point," you'll have a strong urge to sing Burt Bacharach's memorable lyric, "What's It All About, Woody?" Although I found myself laughing through much of the first half of the film, this isn't a comedy. Just knowing Woody Allen's brain after seeing all of his films, I think, gives the Woodophile some predilection to laugh in places where chuckles aren't necessarily required. And I'd guess no one knows that better than Woody Allen.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett smouldering

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?

"Match Point" official site, with free podcasts.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net.

Copyright © 2006, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

Chew's Reviews    Who is Gary Chew?    Main page

Al Swearingen