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Match Point

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When first seeing a film called Match Point on the cinema schedule, I instantly dismissed it because I thought the title hinted at a chick flick about a place where people go to find their perfect match. And I couldn’t have been more wrong, as the film turned out to be Woody Allen’s latest offering. Even though I missed some of the recent films in his decades long catalogue of yearly productions, this almost made it a must see.

And it was all-the-more interesting after reading reviews which ranged from raving ‘Woody Allen’s best film ever’ to trashing ‘dull’ and learning that the film is set in England and can be considered a definite departure from Woody Allen’s comical past. Seeing that Scarlett Johansson – who’s probably as hot as a tiny blonde can get – stars in the film didn’t hurt either.

Shot of Scarlett Johansson in the film

She turns heads in the film as Nola, a mildly successless American actress who’s the fiancée of Tom, a guy from a severely rich family. And she particularly turns the head of Chris, a former tennis pro, who’s Tom’s tennis trainer (Match Point! – I guess I’m just not a sports person…) in some posh country club. Eventually Chris marries Tom’s sister Chloe and thus becomes part of the rich people himself – ‘working’ in daddy’s company, spending weekends in the countryside and living in a fantastic flat with windows the size of a football field just at the Thames. Meanwhile, Tom dumps Nola and finds a girl who’s considered more ‘appropriate’ by his mum. And then Chris and Nola meet again in Tate Modern…

Shot of Chris in the film

… and just look at the photos of both of them: They both have slightly swollen upper lips and thus belong together. And so tragedy goes its way. With Chris not being able to decide whether to drop Nola or his rich life. With Nola becoming first pregnant and then a fair bit hysterical. And eventually with tragedy out of which Chris finds a happy way out. By luck. Which brings us to the film’s motto that luck is more important than talent.

Woody Allen manages to touch so many topics in the film… ranging from the whole field of deficiencies of the obscenely rich to very basic moral questions. We see how Chris turns from a hard-working tennis-pro with cultural interests into one of them while remaining the charming person he started as.

Shot with upper lips of both

Another thing that’s amazing is how perfect the dialogues are in the film. While they make perfect sense in their respective situations, it often seems like there’s a second level on which everybody is just talking nonsense. While the things that people say may make perfect sense in the situation and even to them, they look patently absurd and contradictory to their lives when singled out. The most glorious example of that was Chloe – i.e. the rich girl whose life-motto might be described as ‘daddy will sort it, he really wants us to be happy’ – saying that she really believes in hard work. We had a good chuckle when seeing that.

And so, while this film isn’t a classic Woody Allen comedy and not a comedy at all, really, you sometimes feel like Woody Allen’s sense of comedy is still lurking around in the background, waiting for opportunities to peek out. Ihm sitzt der Schelm im Nacken as we say in Germany.

I also need to mention the location. The film is set in London. We see a number of well known sites there. And while I’m not exactly at home in London, I’ve been there a number of times (and quite liked it) and London has left an impression on me, giving a feel of the city. One that’s very different from Woody Allen’s. London looks very heavy in the film. Colours are warmer than I saw them, buildings look much more massive (low camera perspectives). This fits in nicely with the setup of the film, I thought it to be wrong when I saw it. It might also be an ‘American’ view of Europe. I don’t know.

Chris running in Tate Modern

I also really enjoyed the scene where Chris is running in Tate Modern and suffers from the problem of the escalator which goes from the first to the third floor (or however you like to count or name them) with no way to get to the second floor on the way. While that kind-of makes sense for the gallery and is a cool thing to build, it has always bugged me when going up there. So it’s great to see Woody Allen use this very situation in one of his films.

In total I thought the film was impressive. Not funny-impressive. But impressive for its richness and the drama it contains – which I’ve left out of my summary for the benefit of those who haven’t seen the film yet. Apart from the opening credits (what’s their typeface?) the film doesn’t scream ‘Woody Allen’ throughout, but it’s well worth seeing.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

January 8, 2006, 1:17

Tagged as film, match point, scarlett johansson, woody allen.

Comments

Comment by Wilson: User icon

Do you think Chris loves Nola,Chloe or himself? For Nola,is it love or passion? Thanks!

September 5, 2006, 10:32

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