Thursday, January 26, 2006

Woody Allen's Match Point

Woody Allen's Match Point is being hailed all over as his return to form, a masterpiece. I have not seen many of Woody Allen's movies (four is what I can count apart from this) so I can't comment whether it is better than his recent films but it certainly is not a masterpiece and is definitely less than what the film aspires to be. Personally I am all for misanthropy and cynicism. The harsher the better. And any film which makes a mince-meat of the fairy tale ideas of romance, is ipso facto good enough. But on more objective standards the film fails and it fails on many fronts.

The story is about a young tennis coach and social climber who by luck befriends a rich family and marries the daughter of the house. Everything looks hunky-dory in the hero's life until lust and passion threaten the good life that he has find himself living and when the threat becomes too much he decides to take extreme action.

As is common in Woody Allen's films, there are references galore to the world of high-art--characters attend opera, visit art galleries and go to musicals and movies (although this time his choice looked reasonably middle-brow -- Andrew Llyod Webber, The Motorcycle Diaries!). There are also ubiquitous references to Crime and Punishment, which acts as philosophical guide book for the film. Allen even shows his hero reading the book in one of the initial scenes in the film. He also makes it clear that the book is not just a prop by making the hero put down the book and pick up The Cambridge Companion to Dostoevsky instead!

It is more a "movie of ideas" than a realistic study of characters or life in contemporary London (the film makes its thematic interests as explicit as it can), so it is unfair to complain but still the the drama is extremely schematic and totally artificial and the plot far fetched. The characters don't have any life of their own and it seems it is all Woody Allen or the writer pulling strings from behind. It was difficult for me to imagine how could a tennis coach, in a few months, become a successful executive in a financial company! Also the ironies are so heavy-handed that viewers shocked by it can easily take excuse behind the "it's only a movie" line and so nullifying the effect of the film.

Overall, the film will work only for those who are looking for a respite from all the mind numbing and sugary romantic movies and for those who relish a nice misanthropic evening, like me.


km said...

Haven't seen it yet, but I am a diehard Woody Allen fan and I will catch the film one of these days.

But when I remember the experience of sitting through "Small Time Crooks", a chill runs through my soul. That film was just plain dull.


Alok said...

Whatever this film might be, dull it certainly is not!

Even this film might make "chill run through your soul" but for different reasons ;)

km said...


Woody could film Ms. Johnasson reading the phone-book and it would still not be a dull film ;)

Alok said...

you will absolutely love this film then!