MATCH POINT is the new Woody Allen picture. The title refers to tennis but to me it sounds like just some generic name of a place title like GOSFORD PARK or PACIFIC HEIGHTS or LAND OF THE DEAD. If it was up to me it would be called KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS. You know, like, “This winter, director Woody Allen invites you to… Keep Your Dick In Your Pants.”
This is the first Woody Allen movie in a long time that doesn’t seem exactly like every other Woody Allen movie. It takes place in London with a mostly british cast. Jonathan Rhys somebody (a guy from TITUS) plays a guy named Chris. He’s a former pro tennis player who’s kind of a cheapskate, always trying to bum shit off of people. So one day he’s taking advantage of a rich tennis student’s generosity when he falls for the guy’s sister (Emily Mortimer). And then as soon as that’s rolling he falls even harder for the guy’s fiancee (Scarlett Johansen [hubba hubba]). He wants Scarlett bad and tries to make a pass at her but it doesn’t work out. So what the hell, he marries Emily. He gets a good job out of it and her parents pay for him to have a nice apartment and shit. And she wants some babies, now.
So then he’s playing tennis with the brother-in-law and the brother-in-law lets it slip that he decided to break up with Scarlett. Ah, shit. Next thing you know Chris tracks her down and starts having an affair with her. The movie is kind of like FATAL ATTRACTION in reverse. The married guy is pretty much stalking her at first. She’s not crazy, except in the sense that she’s screwin this chump. She does have to spend alot of the movie yelling and upset, but you can’t blame her. She’s the victim in this not some psychotic bitch like you’d expect in one of these affair movies.
I got a special inside tip from my man Laremy, he told me a while back that this one was terrible. I usually agree with Laremy but not on this one. It took me a little bit to warm up to it because the lead character is such an unlikable prick. And it’s not AMERICAN PSYCHO or nothing, you’re not sure, maybe you really are supposed to identify with this guy. But there’s literally no reason to like him, and every reason to hate him. Jesus, even down to him playing tennis. Who the fuck plays tennis? Anyway he’s not an anti-hero. He’s not a maniac. He’s just a fuckin scumbag.
The best trick is how the movie forces you to follow this dickhead through his horrible series of chump moves, and then finally in the last chapter it pulls away from him and tells you okay everybody, now it is okay to root against the motherfucker. Hope he gets caught. Hope he gets killed. Whatever you want. They got you all ready to applaud if he slips up and ends up getting shot or executed or something.
Because it’s not jokey like most of the Woody Allen pictures (not that I’ve seen too many of them, but I’ve heard tales) people are saying it’s completely serious. And I mean, it is serious, but there’s alot of dark humor in it. Some of it’s funny in the same way LOLITA is, where you have to laugh at this dude for chasing the pussy like it’s catnip and doing a poor job of hiding it. Lots of uncomfortable laughs like the scene where he awkwardly convinces his wife to cancel a romantic evening at home so they can go out with her brother and Scarlett. The guy is just hopeless.
There’s also alot of subtle touches about the lifestyles of these rich fucks. Like for example, the whole movie Emily Mortimer is trying to have a baby. At the very end she finally does and the only time you see the baby it’s being carried by some Hispanic servant or nanny you’ve never seen in the movie before. It’s like she just needed it as an accessory. Also, she owns an art gallery but all the art in it sucks. And nobody ever says anything.
I’m not sure what to say about Scarlett Johansen. I don’t know what happened but at some point in the last couple years I think we as Americans became dirty old men. At least you can figure out why the guy lusts after her, that’s the one thing you can see eye to eye with him on. Wasn’t she a little girl not too long ago? Jesus man. Anyway she is mostly good. Maybe one or two parts she didn’t seem up to the dialogue. The Jonathan Rhys-guy, he is perfect for playing a cold and unlikable prick. I mean this guy is not exactly a charmer. Even on the Golden Globes last week, accepting an award for playing Elvis in a tv movie, he seemed like a total dick. Come on man, they’re giving you a trophy, be nice. How the fuck is a guy gonna play Elvis and also seem totally unlikable? I mean, what is he so pissed off about? Only thing I can figure is he could hear me yelling “You’re no Kurt Russel!” at the TV. But come on dude, I never even seen Kurt Russel’s Elvis movie. I’m just giving him respect for the other John Carpenter movies. You’re just jealous because you never get to wear an eyepatch and he’s got to wear it in 3 or more movies.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.