Film review: Match Point (2005)


Directed by Woody Allen, although doesn’t feel like an Allen film one bit. First thing you will notice is, he has left behind his beloved New York, and thank God he stays behind the camera.

Takes place in the UK with mostly a British cast. Very entertaining and rewards those who have knowledge of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic novel Crime & Punishment. It’s a contemporary version of that story.

In the film, we see the main character Chris has read about 25% of Crime & Punishment, which is the crime part. We don’t know if he finishes the book. In what way has Chris been influenced by it? And is he not aware of the ensuing feeling of guilt? Or did he finish the book and is reliving the novel as a kind of experiment?

I love the river scene where the ring is thrown, it really sums up how random life is, and is a reference to earlier scenes I love where Chris speaks about how people hate how luck plays such an important part in life, and the restaurant scene where they discuss luck versus hard work. You can question whether the ring being found was lucky or unlucky for Chris based on his guilt.

A story about what drives us, love or lust? Greed or luck? Chris talks about how he would rather be lucky than good. The question is, when you get lucky and things go your way, is that always a good thing? How far are you prepared to go to ensure your own happiness? Chris lives a double life, he appears unable to choose between passion, or electing the safe bet and settling down. Perhaps Chris' problem is he thinks he can become happy without feeling love. Does he even know himself what he really wants?

Woody Allen analyzes the upper class system in Britain in an almost anthropological way, the film shows how Chris infiltrates a family, for example by working at a tennis club for wealthy members, and deciding to like Opera, becomes he wants to move up in the ranks.


Others have compared the film to George Stevens’ classic movie A Place in the Sun (1951) or Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction (1987).

The performance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers was very wooden I think, he speaks his lines like a bad actor, but then again he played someone a little bit cold, so this could have been intentional? His acting definitely improved in the last 15 minutes for me. I haven’t seen him in anything else to judge, if he is a good or bad actor, his appearance and mannerisms remind me a bit of Joaquin Phoenix.

And of course who could forget Scarlett Johansson, who is especially sexy here, and she lights up the screen everytime she's in a scene.

I love the title, Match Point, it’s about that important moment where you can win or loose, and have no control. If the ball hits the net and lands on your side it’s unlucky, but if it lands on the opponents side luck is on your side. The ring mentioned earlier becomes a metaphor for the tennis ball.

My favourite Woody Allen films are Match Point and Manhattan (1979), I can’t make up my mind which of those I like more right now.

IMDB

Rottentomatoes


Readers, any thoughts on the film?

11 comments:

  1. You might be interested in the Top 10 Woody Allen films we've just posted - http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/6056

    Manhattan and Annie Hall are my two favourites but I also love Sleeper and The Purple Rose of Cairo.

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  2. @Dan : Thaniks for stopping by, I'll take a look at your top 10 of Woody Allen films , then!
    I see Match Point didn't make your 10.

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  3. MATCH POINT was my favorite film of 2005. I loved how the movie focused on a guy who worked hard to move up the social ladder, only to nearly throw it all away for passion. His actions, especially towards the end, showed a calculating mind at work, yet if it wasn't for dumb luck he never would have gotten away with it (but in the end, did he REALLY get away with anything? Will he ever be able to mentally move beyond his actions?). A truly terrific film.

    It shares some plot points with another Allen movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. I'd recommend checking that one out as well of you haven't already.

    Nice write-up!

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  4. @Dave Becker: Match Point I just saw for the 4th time for my review, and I seem to like it more and more ( : I did see CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS a while ago, but I prefer MATCH POINT.

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  5. @Dave Becker: sorry, I forgot to comment on your thoughts on the film. Will he ever get over it? Good question, because he can’t tell anyone about it out of fear of getting caught. In Dostoevsky’s book Crime & Punishment, Sonya helped him try and forgive himself, no such female character exists in Match Point, although Chris' wife attempts to.

    What D’s novel and the film do have in common I think is depicting the inner torture, which Chris was perhaps too naïve to predict. In the novel, perhaps the inner punishment is tougher to cope with than the public punishment. We the readers/watchers experience the pain he is going through. So to answer your other question, no, I don't think he got away with it really.

    I have to say I had more empathy for the main character in the novel. Chris in match point is kind of an unlikeable fellow, so it's weird the film is so engrossing with that in mind, I guess it works due to the great storytelling and directing by Allen.

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  6. I saw this one a while ago, and I loved it. I hadn't heard anything about it prior to seeing it, as a matter of fact, I didn't even know it was Woody Allen's movie until I finished watching it, so I never knew what to expect, a romance film, a social drama, a crime story? I also noticed that it shares a lot with Crime and Punishment, and also it reminded me of Theodore Dreiser's novel called An American Tragedy in a way Chris infiltrated an upper-class family. A great review!

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  7. @ Minoccio: I didn't know Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy was similar, will have to look into that ( :

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  8. I've stated this before but Match Point annoys me - it's such a artificial touristy view of the UK.

    Other than a few scenes and half-decent character performances, it's a pretty overated film in my opinion.

    And agreed, Rhys-Meyers really didn't help.

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  9. @Burning Reels: The naysayers usually complain about how Match Point is an atypical W Allen, but ok, fair enough, not your cup of tea. I'm not the only one who thinks Rhys-Meyers is a dodgy actor, ha ( :

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  10. I show this movie to people who don't like Woody Allen to prove the man can direct. Love this flick. Next to Manhattan Murder Mystery. It's one of my personal favorites

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    Replies
    1. @TheVern: Good idea to show Match Point to people. My favorite Woody Allen film, I just don’t get tired of watching it.

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