Woody Allen serves up another ace with latest movie

Matthew Carroll

Nola Rice, played by Scarlett Jonanasson, relaxes after spending quality time with Chris Wilton, played by Johnathon Rhys Meyers, in Match Point.

Credit: Ben Breier


Match Point

Staring Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Goode and Brian Cox

Directed by Woody Allen

Released by Dreamworks

Stater rating (out of four): ****


Funny. Original. Ahead of its time. Released seven years before Scarlett Johansson was born.

Woody Allen’s 1977 classic, Annie Hall, was all of those things and more.

Fast-forward to 2005.

Allen’s new movie Match Point is exquisitely humorless. It stars a very-much alive Johansson, and its plot is neither original nor ahead of its time. In other words – it’s a perfect complement to the famously witty side of Mr. Allen.

The movie follows retired Irish tennis pro Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) as he arrives in London to begin his life after tennis. Almost immediately, he becomes friends with Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) – who happens to be part of an extremely wealthy upper-class family – and begins dating Tom’s sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer). It isn’t long before the two become engaged and Chris gets a job working for Tom and Chloe’s father, Alec (Brian Cox), as a well-paid executive complete with his own chauffeur.

But I failed to mention something: Throughout all of this, Chris secretly harbors desires for Tom’s fiancee, Nola Rice (Johansson).

This story has been told a thousand times, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is witnessing Allen’s brilliance in full effect. In Annie Hall, he took mundane, everyday life and made it funny and original. In Match Point, he does the same thing to more than slightly cliched subject matter.

The movie moves along at a brisk pace without seeming rushed. Each scene carefully unfolds with the delicacy my mom uses unwrapping her Christmas presents even though she knows darn well she will never reuse the paper like she says.

Many of the characters are only seen briefly, but they all have a genuine nature to them. Standout performances by Rhys Meyers and Johansson make you really care for the characters they are portraying. You peel away layers from these characters, trying to determine their true motives and true identities, but all you discover is a zipper that opens to another layer.

Even after the movie ended, I had that Donnie Darko feeling – like things still weren’t exactly clear or apparent even though I had seen all there was to see.

It’s this mysterious, darkly sexy quality to the movie that really makes it stand out as a uniquely “Woody” moviegoing experience.

So while Match Point fails to upstage Annie Hall on Centre Court, they would make one heck of a doubles team.

Contact ALL correspondent Matt Carroll at [email protected].