It’s tough to say much about Match Point that hasn’t already been said. The best approach in this case is to probably just reinforce what has already been said, so here goes: Match Point is the freshest, most entertaining and most substantial film by prolific New York City-based filmmaker Woody Allen in well over a decade.
Remember Allen’s Small Time Crooks? How about The Curse of the Jade Scorpion? If you don’t, you’re certainly not the only one. Match Point, however, will stick in your psyche.
This is not a movie concerned with presenting Woody Allen’s neurotic view of life. Rather, this is a film about temptation; it’s about having everything and still wanting the one thing you can’t have. Toward its conclusion, the movie devolves into a perfectly competent thriller interested in examining moral ambiguity.
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers plays Chris, an Irish professional tennis player recently relocated to London. In the film he gives lessons to people while figuring out what the next step in his life should be.
That “next step” quickly arrives in the form of Tom (Matthew Goode), who takes a lesson from Chris and takes to him instantly, eventually introducing him to his sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer), his parents (Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton) and his stunning American fiancée Nola (Scarlett Johannson).
Things begin to move very quickly from there. Chris begins a caring, but very mechanical love affair with Chloe while simultaneously pining for the sexy and confident Nola.
One day, Chris and Nola let their passions get the better of them. From there Allen’s script unfolds in a lot of unexpected and clever directions. What begins as a perfectly confident, character-driven drama, becomes an excellent thriller, and the viewer is left wondering what exactly they have just seen.
Some critics believe that moving the setting of Allen’s latest movie from New York to London gave the director new life. This is very possible, as everything about this movie, from the script, to the direction and to the performances, feels equally important. It’s indeed a welcoming change from Allen.
Johannson’s performance has received the most attention. She plays a weak, scared woman who does her very best to hide these faults.
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers also deserves credit for his performance. Chris is a tricky, complicated character. There is much to dislike about Chris, but he is also vaguely sympathetic in a lot of ways. Rhys-Meyers also deserves credit for his portrayal of the difficult character.
There is really nothing bad to be said about Match Point. It’s not an easy movie to watch because it doesn’t take the cheap way out and dance around anything, but this makes it all the more worthy of applause.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.