From Jan ’06 Spotlight: Marital infidelity is also the theme of Woody Allen’s new film Match Point. I confess that Allen’s recent work had so disappointed me that when the familiar opening credits appeared on the screen (stark white letters on a plain black background, set in Allen’s distinctive Windsor font), my heart sank.

But surprise: Match Point is terrific. Although Match Point‘s plot outline sounds very much like Allen’s 1989 classic Crimes and Misdemeanors, it’s actually much better. Once again, an ambitious man is caught between his wife and his mistress, but this time all the characters are more nuanced.

Claire Bloom as the wife in Crimes was too patient and understanding, seemingly blind to her husband’s lies. But Emily Mortimer, as the wife in Match Point, is much more cunning.

On the other hand, Anjelica Huston, as the mistress in Crimes, was such a nudge that Martin Landau had to murder her for our sake as well as his own, but Huston’s Match Point counterpart, Scarlett Johansson, is so voluptuous and vivacious that we grieve with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and feel the full weight of all the years he will mourn her loss.

Furthermore, Allen has finally taken his own distractingly neurotic persona off the screen, focusing his considerable narrative skills on telling the tragic story of one specific triangle. Maybe one day he’ll be Nobel winner number twelve?

Match Point opens in Metro Chicago on January 6.

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  1. There’s no ground here that Allen hasn’t gone over before, but as a treatment of upper crust mores and, eventually, as a thriller, it’s compulsively watchable and generally well acted. Nice post!

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