Woody Allen’s ‘Match’ is a bit off point

Oriana Schwindt

I wish I could say I liked Match Point, Woody Allen’s not-so triumphant return to the director’s chair. Everyone else did. However, there’s just something off about this film.

It’s elegantly shot, and the operatic score is beautifully understated, but it just doesn’t live up to the hype.

Unlike Allen’s other films, Match Point takes place entirely in the world of upper-class London, rather than New York – no neurotic Jewish men, only British blokes.

Former tennis pro Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) gets lucky when he meets wealthy Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), who quickly adopts Chris into the family, and helps Chris get involved with Chloe (Emily Mortimer), Tom’s sister.

The requisite catch and fourth player in the game is Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson), the struggling, lower-class American actress whom Hewett matriarch Eleanor (Penelope Wilton) disapproves of and to whom Tom is engaged.

Nola and Chris begin a relationship of their own, even when Chris and Chloe marry, and through several bad decisions by both, they spin a complicated web of deceit and betrayal. As writer/director Allen so “subtly” hints in the opening scene, Match Point is about luck, fate or both.

While it seems that this would make for riveting cinema, Allen doesn’t allow the tension to build as much as it needs to. The movie’s climax and denouement seem almost a joke, albeit on the dark and twisted side. Judging by the appreciative laughter in the audience, it was taken as one. The question remains as to whether it was intended to be pitch-black-funny.

The script seems too practical, but the cast – with the exception of Meyers – nevertheless does a good job making it lively. You can see him trying to inject gravitas and into the role, but in the end it just seems like he’s trying too hard.

So sorry, Woody. The ball didn’t quite make it over the net on this one.

– Oriana Schwindt