There are many choices we meager human beings must deal with. Difficult choices such as sweet and sour or barbeque, Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC and whether happiness is defined by love or money. That last issue coincidentally happens to be the subject of writer/director Woody Allen’s latest film “Match Point.” “Match Point” is the 40th film that Allen has directed. Starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Scarlett Johansson and Emily Mortimer, the young cast can be seen as an attempt to appeal to a younger generation than your typical Woody Allen fan. Despite the melodramatic story being seen as an extension of the previous Allen film “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, “Match Point” has enough originality to stand out on its own.
Stop me if you have heard this one before. Average tennis pro Chris (Rhys-Meyers) falls in love with Chloe (Mortimer), the daughter of a millionaire. After their marriage, Chris runs into an old flame, Nola (Johansson), and the affair begins. Chris then spends the majority of the film juggling his affair and picture-perfect life. After some time passes, Nola begins to grow tired of being constantly swept under the rug. The stuff hits the fan when Chris finally fesses up to his infidelity and is forced to choose between his two female partners in the classic opposition of love and money.
Of all the components of “Match Point,” it is the acting that needs the most attention. All the actors lack any kind of sincerity in relation to one another to make any kind of an emotional impact. Lines are spoken but they fall flat like baby birds not yet ready to leave the nest. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers gets a passing grade, but the real problems lie in the abomination of Scarlett Johansson. Alternative “it” girl Johansson is undoubtedly a gorgeous face. However, this one trick pony is getting tired as, once again, Johansson plays the beautiful object of desire who is conflicted in her search for her own voice. The majority of the movie is melodrama and, aside from the little on-screen chemistry these actors do have, viewers will be more excited by the clever ways the editing and camera angles manage to keep Johansson’s “assets” under wraps. To be fair, the script is quite interesting and well written. Philosophical discussions about luck versus free will and choice come and go within the plot as the characters verbally duke it out. When the movie’s climax finally does come, it is in the form of quite an exciting twist, thanks to a few helpful elements courtesy of film noir.
As often as he can, it seems, Woody Allen makes a picture on his own and away from Hollywood. Sometimes they are great and win Oscars. “Match Point” is entertaining enough. Filmed entirely in London, the look and feel of the film is hip and vibrant. The last 20 minutes are enough reason to go see it and make you forget about the rest of the dreary film. “Match Point” is about as manly as a chick flick might get, but passing on “Match Point” this Oscar season won’t hurt your backhand.