Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Chris Wilton, a tennis pro who is barely getting by. Hired by a private club to teach members how to play the sport, Chris quickly finds himself making friends with the British upper crust. Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) and his sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) befriend Chris, taking him home to meet mom and dad and generally showing him how good life is on the other side of the tracks. Its like dangling a carrot in front of a horse.
Chloe quickly becomes infatuated with the good-looking Chris and gets her daddy to give him a real job in his big company. Chris takes the job, moves up the ladder, and falls for Chloe all within a very short period of time. While the Chris/Chloe thing is going on, Toms got his own hottie, Nola (Scarlett Johansson) to hang out with. Nolas a struggling actress and Toms parents dont like her. Why? Probably because shes an actress, poor, and shes American. Thats three strikes against her. The upper-class Hewitts may not be big fans of Nolas but Chris certainly is. Despite knowing theyre doing something very, very wrong, the two become involved in an affair behind Chloe and Toms backs.
I believe in love at first sight but youd think the characters in Match Point had each been trapped on a deserted island without the benefit of any interaction with the opposite sex, so quickly do these people pair off. I guess its the rich lifestyle and sucking down drinks 18 hours a day that makes these individuals so desperate to be part of a couple.
The storys improbable and the pacing is, well, strange. Tennis pro Chris goes from lobbing balls over the net to being a whiz kid in business in a matter of days. Or is it weeks? Who can tell? Its very difficult to figure out how much time is supposed to have taken place between events. Sometimes the story calls for the audience to accept these characters have known each other for months, and then turns around and wants us to believe theyve just barely met.
Nothing much makes sense in this flat, unremarkable, and soulless film. Ex-tennis pro Chris isnt likeable enough to get away with his actions, yet for some reason Allen treats him as though hes the hero of the piece. And speaking of Chris actions, the development of his character is so minimal that when he takes drastic steps to do something about his mistress, its incomprehensible as to why he would do what he does.
Saying Scarlett Johanssons believable as a failed actress sounds mean but its not meant that way. Johanssons fine, as are the rest of the cast. The problem isnt in the acting. Its solely in the direction and the story. Match Point is the first movie Allens filmed in London but that doesnt really make much of a difference. His characters could easily have been transported from any of his other films which feature upper-class New Yorkers.
There are always one or two movies each year that are hyped by critics and film groups as the best of the year that, for the life of me, I just dont understand why anyone finds that particular film appealing. That can be said about whats happening with Match Point. Ive seen it on a few Best of 2005 lists and I dont get it. Is it because its a Woody Allen film? That cant be as by now even the most ardent Allen fan has to admit theyve been burned by the filmmaker.
For some reason Match Point is winning over the majority of critics. While it may be Allens best film in years, is that really something to boast about? I dont think I need to remind Allen supporters about Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Anything Else, and Melinda and Melinda. Comparing rotten apples to rotten tomatoes (wink wink) doesnt make one of the two suddenly delicious.
"Match Point" was directed by Woody Allen and is rated R for some sexuality.