Match Point

Rated NR

It’s almost unbelievable that this is a Woody Allen film, because it looks and feels nothing like any of his earlier films. The cinematography is especially non-Allen-like. Where Woody is known for his fairly dull shooting style, Match Point cinematographer Remi Adefarasin, in his first collaboration with Allen, gives the film a tremendous sense of energy and beauty. The acting, too, is completely un-Allen: Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ uncomfortable style owes nothing to Allen’s nervous nebbish, and the other actors fit into their parts with a perfect naturalness that’s completely alien to Allen’s usually broad or stagey direction. The story does have its roots in Allen’s obsessions with guilt and punishment, though it’s told in a more sophisticated manner than Allen would have previously seemed capable of. The plot centers on impoverished Chris Wilton (Rhys Meyers). He insinuates himself into the wealthy Hewett family, marrying homely and dull Chloe Hewett and befriending the casually elitist Tom Hewett so that he can live a life of wealth and ease. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with Tom’s equally poor girlfriend, the stunningly beautiful Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson). The only hint of Allen’s usually silly comedy in this gripping drama comes from a couple of comic relief police officers (Ewen Bremner and James Nesbitt). I can only imagine that something about shooting a film in England, with a new set of actors and a new cinematographer, has liberated Allen from a lot of his bad habits and produced one of the tightest dramas you’ll see this year.

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