Sunday, February 26, 2006

Match Point

Review by Michael Jaffe

Match Point is a fantastically tense and beautiful modern tragedy. The dialogue isn’t as biting or intelligent as Mr. Allen has done in the past, but the film is all about minimalism in a society of over the top summer houses and fancy cars. The story is about Chris Wilton, a famous Irish tennis player who comes to London as a tennis instructor and becomes married to a wealthy Londoner. Her wealthy father gives Chris a job and things are looking up. But Chris cannot forget about his brother-in-laws former fiancĂ©e, American actress Nola Rice. He eventually meets back up with her and starts an affair. The rest of the movie is a taught drama that views the struggle Chris goes through with his infidelity and the morality of his actions.
The acting in the movie is all underplayed, with very subtle performances from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Emily Mortimer. Rhys-Meyers has always been under the radar of American film goers, but after winning an Emmy for Elvis, his performance in the now Oscar nominated Match Point and being cast in the upcoming Mission: Impossible III should vault Rhys-Meyers to stardom. His performance in Match Point is very quiet, conveying the full spectrum of emotions without having to blow up like Al Pacino. Emily Mortimer also is up and coming and in Match shows a perky, rich upper-class Londoner, but still can show her doubt and self consciousness. Scarlett Johansson as the American Nola Rice, Mathew Goode as Tom Hewett, the brother in law and Brian Cox as the Londoners wealthy father all turn in very good performances that get all the points across, but none of the trio captures the movie. Ms. Johansson does display a level of sexuality that made most men in the theatre squirm, but her naturally incredible looks doesn’t make an entire performance even though her beauty does rule the screen whenever she appears. A hidden treat for filmophiles, Ewen Bremmer, Spud from Trainspotting, and James Nesbitt, Ivan from Bloody Sunday, make appearances as detectives in the film.
Woody may not be at the top of his game when writing or directing Match Point, but he should be applauded for writing one of the best films of the year while exploring new territory. His direction has little action, but the slightest of camera movement and lighting set a mood as only an American master could. The film’s setting in London allows for Mr. Allen to use the English social latter to move the story. While the film may only by Mr. Allen sticking out his feelers in London before busting out in 2006 with Scoop, a London-set comedy also with Ms. Johansson. With his touch for the subtle still intact, I hope to see his movies get better and better from now on. As for this film, I think a great new tragedy for the cannon has been created. 8.5/10

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