Sunday, February 26, 2006

Movie Report: Match Point

Woody Allen's new movie, Match Point, was playing here last weekend and it had been highly recommended by one of my anonymous readers, Becky, so I went to see it. I liked it better than any Allen movie since Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Match Point, has some common themes with Crimes and Misdemeanors. Both books have anti-heroes who appear to literally get away with murder. The parallel between both books and Dostoevsky's famous novel, Crime and Punishment are obvious. Just to make sure we get the point, Allen starts Match Point with the anti-hero, Chris, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, reading the Dostoevsky book.

It has been a few years since I saw Crimes and Misdemeanors, but my recollection is that the bad guy in that movie gets away completely with his murder, not even suffering any regrets, while the good guy gradually loses his sight. The message in that movie seems to be the same as the Biblical phrase, "The rain falls on the just and the unjust," i.e. that evil is not punished, at least in this world. In Dostoevsky, the murderer does suffer from his crime, eventually going mad, if I remember the story correctly. In Allen's latest effort, there is at least a hint of a Dostoevsky outcome, with Chris starting to see ghosts at the end of the movie, although it is not clear (to me at least) what happens after the movie ends.

In Match Point, Allen has fun with the role of luck in the lives of his protagonists, starting the film with a voice over narrator talking about the effect of a tennis ball hitting the top of the net and then, depending on chance going over the net or falling back, with vastly different outcomes to the game. Likewise, near the end of the movie, Chris throws a ring which hits the top of a guard rail and depending on whether it goes over into the river, or bounces back has vastly different consequences.

This is not a typical Allen movie in that it is not set in New York City and none of the characters are Jewish. It is typical Allen in that his penchant for picking attractive little-known actresses to star in his movies comes up with another winner, the lovely Scarlett Johansson.

Despite the serious themes, this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie to which I gave five out of five stars.


pgspringer said...

Well, you can't be wrong all of the time.

Amishlaw said...

Is that called "damning with faint praise?"

rdl said...

I used to love Woody Allen; i guess i will have to go see this one with that recommendation.