Only four films left in my Woody Allen tourist series and after Match Point that seems far, far too many. Since I am British and have visited London as a tourist and for work several times, it may seem odd to include a film set in London on the list. However, since London is very popular with visitors and Allen made so many films there, not to include at least one would be a major oversight.
Plus, as a working class Brit I was interested in seeing how Woody Allen would paint the upper class. Just like everyone else does, it seems.
Match Point, like every other of Allen’s films, is a tale of hierarchy and infidelity. Honestly, he has more relationship swapping amongst characters than Shakespeare. Narration duties are given to Chris, an early retired tennis pro who is apparently Irish working class. It infuriates me to even write that. Yes, I have researched the actor and yes he is actually Irish, but his accent seems more English than mine. Even the working class have to sound middle class in this film. I’m happy with the inclusion of James Nesbitt so at least American audiences know what actual Irish sounds like.
Through connections at the country club and a yearning to be better than he is, Chris finds himself dating a plain, but rich, Brit whilst secretly lusting after her brother’s fiancee. You can understand the mess he’s got himself in when you learn the fiancee is played by Scarlett Johansson.
It’s not necessarily a bad film. I actually think the narrative is really solid. And it pleases me that it was cheaper for Allen to film in the UK so he amended his entire film so it included British actors, etc. But 2005 wasn’t a great year for style, was it? And the London locations looks quite over-exposed and grey. I’m a fangirl for Woody’s over-saturated visual masterpieces. This just seemed sloppy.
As I was about to write this post, curiosity made me check the kind of reviews it recieved. About 77% on rotten tomatoes seems fair because there’s not much actually wrong with it. But then I saw 4/4 from Roger Ebert. That took me aback. It questioned the judgements I made about this film. Is it actually a really good film? Have I missed the entire point of it? I have now come to the conclusion that it is a solid film, in terms of both narrative and style. But retrospectively watching the film, for me, does it no favours.
There has been too many films by Americans about upper class Brits on country estates. There have been too many Woody Allen films where people are cheating on each other and resort to unspeakable acts of madness to prolong their lies and I’m tired of them. And honestly, though I know there are many differences, wondering how Irrational Man (2015) even got made brings me back to this film. It’s as if Woody Allen just said to himself “Well, if it ain’t broke…”
What did you think of Match Point? Did you agree with Roger Ebert or, like me, did you watch it years after it’s release and wonder what the fuss was about?