Thursday, May 04, 2006

Match Point


I've seen only a few Woody Allen films and most of those were ones he made in the later part of his career. But they were enough for me to form in my mind, an image of a typical "Woody Allen movie". Match Point turns that image on its head. He stays behind the camera for this film and instead of making a comedy with himself at the center, delivers a film that begins as a drama and develops into a thriller. But he proves that he is as accomplished at this genre as he is in comedy.

Match Point is almost two different films in one(with the most amazing part being that neither of these 2 films is a typical Woody Allen film). It starts off creating some complicated relationships between an interesting set of people. Intelligent characterization and smart conversations dominate the proceedings here. We may not agree with what the characters do but with subtle but well-defined characterization, Allen makes sure that we understand why they do it.

The film could serve as an example for how a movie should be paced. It starts off at a leisurely pace while setting a Fatal Attraction-kinda triangle in place. It starts getting more rushed as it places its hero in an awkward place, giving him few options to get out cleanly. And towards the end, it turns into the kind of film that would've made even Hitchcock proud. While the movie holds our attention throughout, the pace is ratcheted up towards the end and there are a number of tense moments that get our pulses racing.

One of the most enjoyable things about the film is its unpredictability. Allen has a lot of fun toying with our expectations and things rarely play out the way we expect them to. One scene, involving a ring and a bridge railing, is almost exhilarating in the way it is picturized and is the perfect example of Allen's MO of setting our expectations a certain way and then almost gleefully breaking them.

Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous and inspite of playing a character with broad shades of gray, exudes a vulnerability that makes us sympathize with her. Emily Mortimer is at the other end of the scale. On the surface she is the perfect wife, with her husband's well-being being her topmost priority. But she is a nag and the way she nudges her husband along in the direction she wants makes her almost cunning. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers essays a rather complicated character who is confused about whether he wants a good life or a life filled with passion.

10 Comments:

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous ram said...

"One scene, involving a ring and a bridge railing, is almost exhilarating in the way it is picturized and is the perfect example of Allen's MO of setting our expectations a certain way and then almost gleefully breaking them."

-- This exact instance of Allen's directorial brilliance was what elevated this movie from a very good one to an unforgettable one! yeah, lovvvvvved this touch...

If you liked this, you must also check out his "Crimes and Misdemeanors." Shares some common themes and has a hilarious track involving Allen and Alan Alda...the suspense in C and M is also brilliantly maintained and Allen toyed with the viewer's expectations in that one, as well.

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous ram said...

kaalangaarthaala, indha pic paathen...manase en kitte ille...
http://www.indiaglitz.com/channels/tamil/gallery/m/Events/naalai_aula050506/106418.html

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Shwetha said...

Great film, I enjoyed it too. I liked your observation of Emily Mortimer on your review..her character is so subtly stated yet utterly unambiguous!

 
At 6:21 PM, Anonymous ram said...

shwetha, u beat me to this comment! i reread your review during lunch coz i was esp. impressed with some of your observations...and yes, ur comment on emily mortimer was dead-on-balls accurate.
very insightful review, BB.

 
At 6:21 PM, Anonymous ram said...

btw, it should be, "BB, i reread..."

 
At 8:47 AM, Anonymous sks said...

i am not very sure where woody allen (more famous for his off scene gimmicks like having a permanent physchiatrist and his marriage to monroe and book 'death of a salesman')is from, but the film was made with tradition rich countries like india and england in view. Had the film been based in US instead of UK, the story would have lost its purpose. There is an overwhelming sense of foreboding right from the begining of the movie and Allen is continously building this up. Every moment in the movie is a character building exercise and what is more disturbing is that we can relate to most of these things at our level. That the act of murder becomes a logical extension of the man gripped by his own passion to succeed against his own lust is what disturbingly alleviates this movie. Without too much of a cinematic propaganda Allen has dwelt on the mental makeup of the characters. It almost looks like he has thought of the murder first and then built the story towards it. That, sometimes, is a put off. Haven't seen other woody allen movies but i believe from this movie, that the cast does not play much of a role.

 
At 4:23 AM, Blogger Siva Nara said...

Balaji,

When you get a chance, please do watch the movie "Akeelha and the Bee", may be with your daughter.

Last evening Priya and myself, saw this movie and was very impressed with the way the movie was presented.

Great movie for anyone and everyone with kids.

Siva

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, berardinelli also mentioned c & d in his 'matchpoint' review. i havent watched that. planning to add it to my netflix queue...

ram/deepa, i think the characterization was what impressed me the most in this film. within just a few scenes and dialogs, allen made us understand exactly who each of the characers were.

sks, nicely put. i too noticed that even when the movie turned into a thriller, allen was very low-key. was just stating the facts rather than doing anything artificial to pump up the pace...

siva, that movie's just been released right? have to wait for the dvd though. i think its about a black girl's trip to the spelling bee, right? 'bee season' is also on the same theme i think. but havent seen it yet either...

 
At 3:59 AM, Blogger Siva Nara said...

Hi Balaji,

That is correct. The movie starts Keke Palmer and it is really good especially when you have a daughter.

I saw the movie "Spelling Bee" but that was more like a documentary whereas Akeelah and the Bee is like a real film and very entertaining.

Worth watching in the movie hall.

 
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