out of Five
Running time: 124
Allen’s best film for quite some time – this is a gripping, sharply written drama with superb performances and more than a few surprises up its sleeve.
What’s it all about?
Match Point is Woody Allen’s first film to be set entirely outside his native New York. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Chris Wilton, an ambitious tennis pro at a London club. After befriending Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), one of his rich clients, Chris quickly begins dating Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) and wangles a high-powered city job out of Tom’s father (Brian Cox).
Despite asking Chloe to marry him, Chris finds himself irresistibly drawn to Tom’s American fiancée Nola (Scarlett Johansson) and they begin an affair. However, when Nola demands that Chris leaves Chloe, he resorts to desperate measures to keep her quiet.
There’s more than a touch of The Talented Mr Ripley about Match Point and Allen keeps the atmosphere extremely tense throughout. In addition, Allen makes strong use of his new-found collection of London locations and there’s a certain amount of pleasure to be had in identifying them all (he’s clearly a huge fan of the Gherkin, for example).
Scarlett Johansson is terrific as Nola. With any luck, this could be the beginning of a fruitful working relationship – Johansson has already received a Golden Globe nomination for Match Point and Allen has cast her in his next film, Scoop, also set in London.
The only real problem with the film is Rhys Meyers’ performance. Meyers’ character is fairly despicable from the beginning, so you never feel any sympathy for his predicament. Similarly, towards the end, Allen can’t resist dragging Sophocles into it and almost threatens to derail the entire film as a result.
Despite a couple of dodgy moments, this is definitely worth seeing, even if it does occasionally come across as Crimes and Misdemeanours In London.
Match Point (12A)