Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Match Point

MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality

Reviewed by: Jonathan Wooten
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Crime Thriller Drama
Length:
2 hr. 4 min.
Year of Release:
2005
USA Release:
December 28, 2005 (NY/LA)
January 20, 2006 (wide)
Featuring: Brian Cox, Matthew Goode, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley
Distributor: DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, DreamWorks Pictures

“Passion Temptation Obsession”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “MATCH POINT is a drama about a young man’s rise in society and the terrible consequences of his ambition. The protagonist is torn between two women, and finding no way out, resorts to extreme action. The actors are all English, and it is set amongst the English upper class with Scarlett Johansson playing the beautiful American girl who comes between Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his wife Emily Mortimer. Matthew Goode is Emily’s wealthy brother who initiates the tragic events.”

Review

Woody Allen’s new film “Match Point” arrives in theatres with quite a bit of expectation. While he may not be the most popular man in town, many can’t help rooting for this film to indeed be his “return to form.” And why not, these are dry times at the multiplex, and a lot of us are really thirsty for another “Annie Hall”.

The story unfolds at a genteel pace, and we get the feeling we are in good hands. We follow washed-up tennis pro Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) as he climbs London’s social ladder and eventually marries rich. Despite being the central character in the film, little is revealed about his background or what really makes him tick. At first, this is intriguing, but as the film progresses and ends, we are left to imagine what beliefs (or lack of beliefs) influenced his actions. This is the film’s fatal flaw.

He does seem to be a man who knows what he wants though, and one thing is for sure, he really wants Nola (Scarlett Johansson). To say anything more than, they have an affair and bad stuff happens, would be giving too much away. Let’s just say that this character-driven drama eventually turns into a rather predictable (albeit efficient) thriller. It’s a bit of a shame, given the talented leads and solid supporting cast (Bryan Cox, Emily Mortimer, Ewen Bremner, James Nesbitt). They do the best with what they are given though, and there is some witty dialogue.

With this film, Allen wants us to ponder the significance that chance plays in life (the phrase “it’s better to be lucky than good” is uttered more than once). Christians who believe God is in control and watching over us would argue with him over the mere existence of luck. I suspect this sort of discussion is exactly what he wanted.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate


Viewer Comments

Positive

Positive—After nearly a decade of lesser efforts, Woody Allen makes a masterpiece to rank among his very best movies. By relocating to England and using a mostly British cast, Allen finds a refreshing pace for his first potboiler thriller. Its an amazing screenplay, performed by a fantastic cast, and it certainly packs a moral wallop. Great movie from one of the great American filmmakers
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Peter Davis, age 36
PositiveWoody Allen’s new film “Match Point” is far from any style he has produced within his career, yet one still feels the director’s touch while watching the film. You know you are watching a Woody Allen movie. …
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Jason Anders, age 24
Positive—Well done movie. Not typical Woody Allen film. There is a more of a British feel to the film. The acting is strong. Morally: adultery, abortion, premarital sex are all part of the film’s discussion. Interesting plot that leads to a lust vs. love and the consequences of our choices.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Steven Bonnett, age 38
Positive—.I loved it. It’s a very sad tale of the tragedy of life. A major theme of the film is that luck plays a larger role in our lives, more than we admit. Of course, as a Christian, I do not believe in luck, but the premise still made for a great film. Woody has masterfully woven a tragic thriller full of deceit and despair. It is like Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment meets the generic thriller. That’s as much as I can say without spoiling anything. Overall, great movie. Great dialogue, acting, direction, music, screenplay, and a touch of that good old Woody humor. I definitely recommend it. However, it doesn’t provide many lessons to learn from, except for how lies beget more lies and such. Still, an interesting concept. Not for the kids, though. A bit too steamy on the sexual content.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—RJ, age 19

Neutral

Neutral—We may be on our way to becoming a society of murderers at large. Woody Allen does not seem to have a problem with this phenomenon in this rehash of his earlier film, “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Woody may have returned to form with this well-paced and well-acted suspense yarn, but his amoral worldview still leaves behind a sour taste. The film implies that luck is the true harbinger of an outcome, but it is no accident that the people who land on luck’s bad side are the inconveniet and the disposable… the kind who are always getting in the way. In our culture of death, one form or another of killing is too often an option. Movies are good at exploring this trend. “A History of Violence” was quite frightening, but Allen lets the killer have not only the last word, but the only word. Allen’s hero has superhuman fortune but no human heart. Allen’s world has charm and taste, but no justice. Luck only goes so far.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
—Jim O’Neill, age 52

Negative

Negative—I enjoy watching movies and generally give a sincere attempt at this kind of storytelling the benefit of the doubt in the hopes of learning something about the nature of humanity and ideally a little more about God. Having said that, I nearly walked out of this one. I can’t say that I’m a Woody Allen fan. His alleged brilliance is lost on me, but I heard going in that this was a major comeback for him. Whatever. Seemed like the movie was just an excuse to “direct” Scarlett Johansson.

I think Roger Ebert observed that all the main characters were easy to dislike, or something to that effect. Made it tough for me to care about any character when I could not relate to them very well. There is an especially offensive scene early on where the four main characters convey a certain arrogance about matters of faith and Jesus, in particular. I found it hard to take the picture seriously thereafer. Seemed like Allen made up a weak premise, that since none of them believed in God, that gave rise to their respective sinful nature and lack of foresight.

In the end, I wanted my money back. In relating and discussing this movie with other believers, I did feel there are lessons to be learned about the snowball effect of sin in our lives and the arrogance we often have about living a life apart from God.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3
—M. Gallagher, age 38