We do not control our own lives, luck does. That is what Woody Allen would like us to remember when we begin our journey into Match Point.
Match Point stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as ex-tennis player Chris Wilton. Chris takes a job as a tennis instructor at a prestigious London club where he meets Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). They become fast friends, and before you know it, Tom introduces Chris to his family. Chris wins the affection of the Hewett family and begins dating Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer). One weekend at the family’s country house, Chris meets struggling actress Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Their attraction is instant and intense. There’s just one hitch: Nola is Tom’s fiance?©. Chris and Nola engage in a flirtation that, years later, (when Chris has married Chloe and Nola and Tom have long since broken up) turns into a passionate love affair. Of course, as we all know, the course of true lust never did run smooth. Where the film goes after that is perhaps a darker place than anyone would expect.
Match Point provides a conundrum that was presented to filmgoers around this time last year with Closer. When you are presented with completely unsympathetic characters, how do you bring yourself to care about what happens to them? Its unclear if it was Allen’s intent to keep us emotionally detached from the characters, but the result is an interesting one. Its painful to say that Scarlett Johansson’s performance may be the weakest one in the film (stepping into a part originally held by Kate Winslet a week before shooting began), because she is one of the most promising and talented young actresses on screen today. Her performance is at times choppy, but she pulls through in the more challenging scenes of the film. No doubt due to working with an experienced director such as Allen, who knows how to pull out the genuine talent of his actors. Rhys-Meyers commands the role of Chris, achieving confusion, lust, and desperation without ever appearing lost in the dense stript. The supporting cast perfom beautifully, as if they were regulars in the world of Woody Allen.
Match Point is a good movie, but not great movie. The conclusion of the film is an unexpected, yet predictable one. As Chris’ marriage and affair begin to unravel, it’s as if he feels that he’s the lead in one of the tragic operas that he loves so dearly. He lives from moment to moment, not feeling so much lucky as lost.
In the end, Allen does prove his point about luck. The characters wander through the world of Match Point nearly oblivious to what is going on around them and unable to control the events that they themselves have put into motion.
STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, and Penelope Wilton
GENRE(S): Drama, Suspense/Thriller
WRITTEN BY: Woody Allen
DIRECTED BY: Woody Allen
RELEASE DATE: Theatrical: December 28, 2005
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes, Color
ORIGIN: USA / UK