By Tessa Strasser
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Play a little word association in your head with Woody Allen and see what you come up with. Big glasses; New York; Jewish; dry sarcastic humor. Then forget all those words when you go to see "Match Point," because Allen has ripped away his security blanket.
"Match Point" focuses on Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). A former tennis pro, Chris couldn't keep up with the real pros like Andre Agassi. He quit the pro circuit to live in London, teaching tennis to hopeless rich people. While there, he ends up teaching Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). The two bond over a love of opera CDs and he invites Chris to an opera with his family. The family seizes him as their pet project, loving the fact that he raised himself up from a poor Irish family to a somewhat respectable position in life.
The sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer), sees him as quite the pet project, even taking to dating him and getting him a job with Daddy's company. Chris laps up the rich life he never got to experience while eyeing the sweet eye candy that is Nola Rice, Tom's fiancée (Scarlett Johansson). Neither can bear the thought of losing the security blanket of the family's money while living the good life, so they just eye each other discreetly and then keep shacking up in Nola's apartment. As you can guess, like most affairs, this one has only one way it can go: badly.
The film's big problem is that you
can't really identify with any of the characters. Rhys-Meyers comes off as cold and distant, basically letting himself get forced into a marriage with someone he doesn't even seem to care about, just for the money. That's the only real thing he ever seems to light up about. Not even his game of tennis seems passionate; it's just coldly mechanical. It's hard to even be sympathetic for Chloe while she's getting cheated on because she's so clueless to everything going on with Chris. It's almost to the point of being a gapingly large plot hole. Johansson comes off as slightly obnoxious herself, a little too proud of the fact that she knows every male character to walk on screen is drooling over her.
Also, while the movie continues to keep you intrigued, Allen beats around the bush and drags the affair on longer than necessary before finally getting to the finale. Even he seems unsure of where he wants to go with it, but the end is definitely worth the long game it takes to get through.