Saturday, January 19, 2008

Match Point (2005)

Match Point is a film steeped in ambiguity, and how luck has more to do with our success then we would like to believe. Woody Allen directs this interesting crime melodrama that feels like a through back to those noirs of the 40's & 50's. The plot is simple: "At a turning point in his life, a former tennis pro falls for a femme-fatal type who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law". Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays Chris Wilton a former tennis pro. At first we don't know whether Meyer's character is a man who is a con artist or a man who truly does like the finer points of life. His love for opera, and his fascination of Dostoevsky and his work seems a bit strange, but when he decides to commit murder you realize his cruel calculating demeanor is anything but false.

Woody Allen does a superb job at immersing us into a place where murder will be gotten away with and with no consequence proving that sometimes the guilty don't pay for their deeds. The movie is a bit lengthy, but it only does so to steep you in the characters world. A world of opulence, and comfort. Allen uses opera music several times in the film. "The haunting recording used several times in the soundtrack, including over the opening and closing credits, is the Enrico Caruso 78 rpm of "Una furtiva lagrima" ("A furtive tear"), from Gaetano Donizetti's opera "L'Elisir d'Amore" ("The Elixir of Love")."* Allen does this quite effectively in a few scenes, and it is quite chilling to see what he juxtapositions to the music and the respective image. It gives the scenes a bigger then life feel.

The cinematography is done by Remi Adefarasin, and the production design is by Jim Clay. The world Chris inhabits is one of sheer opulence, and through the cinematography & production design we transported into this world of wealth & comfort. The art direction is by
Diane Dancklefsen & Jan Spoczynski who do a great job at showing us a world that few only see.

I really like this film. It seemed a bit long for me, and my only nit pick would be that the set-up takes forever, but Allen does a wonderful job at getting us to like characters that we wouldn't ordinarily find likable. I do think that in the end Allen makes Scarlett Johansson's character a bit of a shrew, which is unfair. Maybe it's to try and justify Meyers' actions, but his actions go way beyond justification, and into the criminal. Johansson's character at first seems to be that of the femme-fatal, but in the end we see her as a very beautiful young lady caught in a doomed love triangle destined to fail. The movie leaves you without any really cathodic ending, and because of this I think the film is a bit stronger for it.

If you get a chance Match Point is a really interesting film with a lot of sub-text in it. Allen's refers to opera, and Dostoevsky throughout the film, and the film is layered with some interesting ideas on how much "luck" has to do with our success & failures. After seeing this film I began to get envious at how Allen crafted his film. It is something I wanted to do with my own film, but I really never had the budget to do it as grand as he had done. Nor do I have his talent for brilliant writing, but I'm working on it. I did feel as though the film was a through back to the late noirs, but without the stark photography of the period. I look forward to Allen's next film if he decides to go down this road again, and it's also really good to see some really good filmmaking by a filmmaker who few think have reached his zenith. I think Allen is just beginning to hit his stride, and he will be a filmmaker to be remembered for years to come. Of that I have no doubt.
*taken from IMDB trivia

No comments: