Match Point (2005)


I wish I can say that Woody Allen’s venture in to new territory was great—had he actually explored new territory, mind you. And I wish I could proclaim this a giant rip-off of Allen’s style, had Allen not directed it. Fact is, though, Allen’s involvement in the film doesn’t deter the idea that “Match Point” feels like imitation Woody Allen. It’s often been described as “the serious sub-plot of “Crimes and Misdemeanors” extended in to a film”, and that’s an apt description. However, when all is said and done, I’d describe this as a remake of “Crimes and MisDemeanors” with footnotes of “A Place in the Sun” thrown in for good measure.

Young desperate man gets in to a relationship, finds himself in another better relationship, he finds the previous relationship is weighing down on him, he disposes of the situation through violent methods, and finds he’s having trouble sealing it up nice and tight. More appropriately though, Allen’s film is a combination of both. It’s a regurgitation and a recycling. I’ve become ensconced and elated with Allen’s writing over the last few years, and the man has a knack not only for human action, but with human dialogue. “Match Point” is clearly the exception to the rule. As much as it pains me to say, as much as I was looking forward to this, Allen’s first foray into a different territory is a sad state of affairs. His writing in particularly is always rather shrewd. We can never be sure if he attempts to pose his characters as smooth and stylish, or if he’s trying to have them force themselves to be smooth and stylish, but Allen’s writing is forced regardless.

I found the writing was often incredibly hackneyed and put upon the audience as if he expected us to believe people like this could behave in such a manner. Allen’s dialogue always feels so smooth, fluid, and realistic, but here it felt like he was forcing the characters in to this often awkward dialogue with truly forced drama that was never genuine. Should we care about what happens with rich people? Not really. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” examined common people committing cruel atrocities against each other, but here it’s simply an episode of “The OC” set in the UK. It’s all simply Allen’s mystery sans the tension and freeze-dried and re-packaged to look like an actual original idea. But the film alone is utterly self-indulgent with smug acting, unlikable characters, and no essence of the director. The film is soulless, thus Allen shows himself to be soulless. If that doesn’t make things even worse, Johannsen’s performance is sadly the worst of the film.

Johannsen’s acting is based on highs and lows, and here she’s at her all time low. With a seasoned cast, and complex character, she can never keep up. Her performance is wooden, and her delivery of her dialogue is unconvincing. What was he thinking casting her in the first place? Is she sexy? Hell yeah, but I also know of sexy actresses whom could have pulled in a very good performance. We never sympathize for her, and her character motivations are just confusing and lackluster. The film as a whole never feels as if Allen is committing, and “Match Point” is a half-hearted effort. Allen’s experiment in to a new locale is well-intentioned, but ultimately very misguided. “Match Point”, in spite of some good performances by Meyers and Mortimer, is really just a limp, dull, and contrived rehash of “Crimes and MisDemeanors” with a wretched performance by Johannsen.