Thursday, May 04, 2006

Match Point

Match Point, it turns out, is the reason those of us who watch Woody Allen movies continue to do so: Because every now and then, he suddenly makes a movie worth watching. Which is not to say it's perfect. It's a bit on the long side, and the story does bear certain similarities to Crimes and Misdemeanors. Some of the plottier dialogue, near the end, sticks out as more forced than the rest. Also, while I can see why Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' character might hold some bad-boy mystique for the women, it's a mystery why everyone else seems to like him so much--he's always sleepy-eyed, laconic, and seems like a downer.

Still, the script is well plotted, with setups, payoffs, and all those other storytelling tricks it seemed like Woody Allen had forgotten about. There is genuine suspense and dramatic interest here. The movie actually feels thought out--as if Allen finally decided to work on the script rather than shooting a rushed first draft. And while it's long, the scenes are purposeful and brisk in a way you'd never expect from watching Melinda & Melinda.

Okay, so that sounds like the movie is great because it wasn't completely inept. I don't deny that the bar is low. But I think Match Point would still be good even if you hadn't had your expectations lowered by every movie Allen's made since Sweet and Lowdown.

One other thing, though: Early in the movie, Rhys-Meyers gets a job working in "business," and if you pay attention, it becomes hilariously obvious that Allen doesn't know, or doesn't care to know, the first thing about what that even means. Rhys-Meyers' position and the company's function are never specified, and his business dealings consist entirely of vague "businessman" jargon like "this will be a good venture," "we're expanding," "get in on the ground floor," and "I have to sign some papers."

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