Match Point

I have to admit that I’m not Woody Allen’s biggest fan. He’s extremely talented and has produced and directed a lot of movies, but even when I did like his stuff, movies like Deconstructing Harry or Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I still got the impression that there was something missing – one more ingredient to make them perfect. And I felt as if Allen carefully builds his characters to a certain point, after which he just gives up and abandons his character to find their own way toward the end.

Match Point, Allen’s first movie set in England, was released in 2005, following a streak of movies that had failed to impress critics and viewers alike.

“The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.”

Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys -Meyers) is a former professional tennis player who comes from a humble background. Both ambitious and lucky, but lacking the talent to make it big in the world of professional tennis, he finds a job as a tennis instructor at a club in London, where he befriends Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), the son of a millionaire. He soon starts dating Tom’s older sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer). But there’s a problem: Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), a young American actress and Tom’s fiancée. I’m afraid I can’t spoil what happens next, but I believe it’s worth the trouble.

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is brilliant, playing the role of this charming impostor driven by an insatiable ambition to succeed. The script is very well put together, the dialogue is believable, funny, and smart, the soundtrack consists of opera arias and works very well with the atmosphere of the movie.

What makes this movie so great? Chris Wilton. Because even though clearly missing any morality, he appeals to us, and we can only wonder what our reactions would have been if presented with similar dilemmas. It all rings true, we can’t help but feel that this is plausible, that this could actually happen in real life.

Match Point, the movie that even Woody Allen called “arguably his best ever,” is a brilliant portrayal of that always dangerous game called a “love triangle.”

 

19 comments on “Match Point

  1. jpbohannon says:

    Cristian, I am a big Woody Allen fan and I couldn't agree with you more. "Match Point" is clever, stylish, wonderfully written and beautifully filmed. As Allen has shown subsequently, he no longer needs New York. His recent films in London, Barcelona, and Paris (the new Rome film I haven't seen yet) are beautiful valentines to each city. Great post!

  2. hellisafourletterwor says:

    Agreed! I am actually very fond of Woody Allen, I especially loved 'Whatever Works', which I saw very recently. He is a very clever man!

  3. Lady G. says:

    Good, honest review. I'm not his biggest fan either, but I like a number of his films. My favorite movie of his, and one of my favorites in general will always be the whimsical Purple Rose of Cairo. :)

  4. Bookworm says:

    OMG! You were right on 'point' [pun intended] and I agree with you all the way re: WA movies. I did like this one very much and JR-M is an amazing talent that is in my opinion underrated.

    Mel

  5. Had I known 'Midnight in Paris' was a Woody Allen film I may not have watched it as I am not a big fan of his either but I adored the movie completely.I haven't seen Match Point but will now (for sure). There can be no argument that he is an absolutely brilliant film maker. I think I have to remind myself to set aside some of my negatives … ty

  6. As a tennis player, previous London resident, Woody Allen fan, and habitual imposter myself, I loved Match Point as well. My only complaint: Yes, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was "brilliant" in the role–but his tennis stroke sucked. Allen may inspire fantastic performances from his actors, but he can't coach a non-tennis player to hit the ball correctly. ;-)

  7. rdomeras says:

    I certainly would agree that Match Point is a great film, but I would like to say a good word for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which may be a great film — and you may feel that something is missing because that is what it is about. I only dare make this statement because I subscribe to Showcase on cable, and about six months ago, VCB was on — over and over again. I saw it in a movie theater and liked it, and because I will do anything to avoid commercials, I started to watch VCB over and over again and never got bored (by the way, I can also repeat much of the dialogue in The Ghost Writer and can recite whole scenes from Quantum of Solace). As a matter of fact, I found more and more in VCB each time I watched it, and I hope some day it gets its due. VCB is a movie about growing up, but it is also a movie that brilliantly contrasts European and American culture and a wannabee artist vs real artists in a very sly way. Vicky has true artistic feeling (her flirtation with Juan Antonio is how Woody Allen shows this), which she supresses out of fear and chooses the easy way out — a bourgeois marriage . Cristina is a rebel, and a kind of lost artist — a wannabee who is mute and perhaps not talented at all. You can if you like, see these young women as a commentary on the sterility of art and the artist in the United States (this in a Woody Allen movie?). The two "real" artists are, of course, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena. Somehow for Allen, European culture allows them to express themselves. But he also points out the irony that the true genius (in this case, the most talented artist Maria Elena) is the craziest and most impossible to live with. Penelope Cruz is fantastic at expressing this madness (could anyone bear to live with Beethoven?). I am not sure that Woody Allen deliberately set out to say all of this because from what I understand, he writes in a very intuitive without a grand plan. Or maybe you just go nuts and see weird visions if you watch VCB 25 or 30 times on cable.

  8. Have you ever read any of his short stories?

    I just saw "The Kugelmass Episode" performed by Word for Word, a theater company in San Francisco that performs short stories (including all narrative elements) as if they were plays. The story won an O Henry Award back in the late '70s and was hilarious in Word for Word's staged production. A couple of pop culture references were a bit dated, but the rest of the story was still fresh and clever.

  9. ashleypatterson21 says:

    I loved match point so much, it makes you really question and think! :D

  10. N Filbert says:

    I'm also an Allen fan for reasons pertaining to his rambling jargon that sounds so much like intellectual america. However, I thought "Match Point" to perhaps be the best rendition of Crime & Punishment I have ever viewed.

  11. marceloasherq says:

    I loved that it didn't play out how similar plots historically do. Brilliant and unsettling.

  12. I really enjoyed this film back when it came out. I rewatched it again last summer, and I still like it.

  13. OpallaOpalla says:

    I agree with Cristian about character development in Woody Allen's movies. I think what happens is that he becomes impatient and wants so much to get his questions and messages out that at some point, the characters becomes his mouthpiece even they are ready for it. I'd go to a Woody Allen movie when I am in the mood to listen to his intellectualism. That said, when I set foot on England in 1972 and watched "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But were Afraid To Ask", I knew this guy's talented.

  14. EM Vireo says:

    i also think some of his movies seem to get to a point and then just hurry up and end. (midnight in paris seemed to literally fall off a cliff) Maybe it has something to do with his ridiculously high production rate. Overall tough, I think he has to be considered one of the best ever. this one was actually not one of my favorites, maybe because i am so sick of Scarlett Johansson and was already back then. talk about over saturation.

  15. Melinda says:

    I totally agree with you EM Vireo. SJ ruined this film for me. But then, Annie Hall is my favourite Woody Allen film. He's pretty much been doing the same thing over and over since then, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

  16. Meghna Sapui says:

    I started watching Woody Allen with "the Scoop". Though I don't like him as an actor, I do like the movies he makes. And yes, it is the dialogues that make his films. They are real, witty and humorous. And though his movies almost never have happy endings, the endings are real. They drive home the message that life can be and is unfair. Thank you for reviewing this one :)

  17. poetryplusuk says:

    I thought I would know any movies reviewed here! Match point seems a good start for me now .hehe.Thank you for your visiting and I very much look forward to having your comment on one of my poems in the future.

  18. musikwala says:

    Haha Woody Allen makes interesting films certainly. Completely agree with you there when you say that he builds up the characters nicely and then sort of doesn't care how they end up at the end of the movie. Case in point: You'll Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Thoroughly entertaining. You've piqued my interest for 'Match Point' now. Will check it out.

  19. Celia Place says:

    I found Match Point a disturbing, well-plotted, brilliantly acted and memorable film. Interestingly, I can never remember the film's title–somehow it doesn't seem worthy of all the stuff–the anguish, the evil, the arbitrariness of fate–that's piled in.

    More broadly, each of Woody's films has a distinctive feel, some of them quite derivative of other filmmakers, a few of them entirely distinctive to him. For example, I really loved Interiors, but perhaps because I also admire Bergman. . . It is difficult to evaluate Allen's achievement because he's such a borrower and chameleon.

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