“Match Point” is Woody Allen’s best movie in years. Lately I have grown weary of the quirky filmmaker. He seemed to be descending in to a pit of self-absorbed comedy. His characters seemed confined to the universe of trendy and way too self-opinionated. Finally he has given us a movie where the characters sound like real people.
The story follows Chris, a former tennis pro, who takes a job giving lessons at a private club. He meets Tom. They hit it off and and Tom invites Chris to the opera. This is where he meets Chloe, Tom’s sister. The two hit it off and begin dating. Soon Chris finds himself completely swallowed in to the family. They have more money then they can spend, they hook him up with a job in the company and set him up to marry Chloe.
But has Chris gets further and further in to the family, he becomes intrigued with Tom’s fiancé Nola. Soon they become romantically involved. From there the situation takes a couple of twists and turns and Chris finds himself living lies all around. The situation threatens the new financial life he has become so comfortable with. How it turns out is tragic.
These plot elements are very familiar but rarely done with such observation and tension. At first we like Chris, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, but gradually his actions begin to lead us down a different direction. How he handles everything is almost worthy of Tom Ripley.
“Match Point” is a departure for Woody Allen. Normally he films and sets his movies in New York. Here everything is shot and takes place in London. I’m not sure if he is familiar with the territory but he makes everything seem very authentic. This is unlike anything we have ever seen from Allen.
The performances are all pitch perfect. Meyers gathers are sympathy then slowly loses it with his actions. Scarlett Johansson plays Nola as a woman who just wants life to take care of her. As Chloe, Emily Mortimer is sweet but not stupid. When things seem off, she confronts Chris in a scene of true revelation.
The ending I will not reveal, but I will say that it will haunt me for a long time to come. Rarely can the closing events of a movie sit with you for as long as they have sat with me. It has been almost a week now and I am still thinking about it.