You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

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Dutifully fulfilling his informal pledge to deliver a film a year, Woody Allen’s lacklustre latest is a profoundly bitter think piece which views life as a succession of chronic disappointments, upsets and missed opportunities. Ironically for someone as eloquent as Allen, the main problem isn’t the substance of what he says, it’s the artless and ham-fisted way he says it. Naomi Watts delivers a strained turn as an aspiring, London-based art dealer who’s concurrently weighed down by her pretentious author husband (Josh Brolin), batty, suicidal mother (Gemma Jones) and Viagra-powered lothario of a father (Anthony Hopkins). Each character starts the film with optimism for the future, but Woody – on atypically Machiavellian form – mercilessly strips it away from them as if stressing that life is essentially a meaningless nightmare of pain and suffering and that fate is indifferent towards our dreams and desires.

Made simply and unflashily and thankfully avoiding a landmark-heavy representation of the capital, the film still has so little visual depth that it would work just as well as a short story. Also a problem is the use of crude, featureless ciphers in supporting roles: Lucy Punch’s dim Essex slapper being one of the director’s broadest and nastiest concoctions in some time. There’s plenty of ambiguous intellectual heft lurking behind the curtain of mediocrity – so it’s a pity it feels like it was dashed off in a few hours one afternoon.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday March 18 2011
Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Woody Allen
Screenwriter: Woody Allen
Cast: Gemma Jones
Anthony Hopkins
Antonio Banderas
Lucy Punch
Josh Brolin
Naomi Watts
LiveReviews|12
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rob jessup

Just got to point out that this film could of been a sparows tear better by at least employing some extras who didnt look ridiculous ( the club scene with anthony hopkins and lucy punch where the extra dances with her is the most ludicrous scene I´ve ever had to endure ) and the scene where josh brolin takes his neighbour out to dinner looks terrible with the extras hamming it up - also who did the costume - everything was in beige ! woody allen goes hollyoaks is how this film felt - cheap and naff the plot was superflous and flimsey and the ending rushed - midnight in paris had glimmers of humour and simian nosed owen wilson played a good woody ( much more likeable than the real life shifty get ) but really why does he bother hes got his clarinet why does he want to churn 1-2 average films a year ! I suppose even a shit woody allen film is a pleasant way to waste an hour and a half ... but always uncomfortable knowing about his past - shit stinks and i keep thinking that whenever i see another actor in his films in a palate of brown/beige....

rob jessup

Just got to point out that this film could of been a sparows tear better by at least employing some extras who didnt look ridiculous ( the club scene with anthony hopkins and lucy punch where the extra dances with her is the most ludicrous scene I´ve ever had to endure ) and the scene where josh brolin takes his neighbour out to dinner looks terrible with the extras hamming it up - also who did the costume - everything was in beige ! woody allen goes hollyoaks is how this film felt - cheap and naff the plot was superflous and flimsey and the ending rushed - midnight in paris had glimmers of humour and simian nosed owen wilson played a good woody ( much more likeable than the real life shifty get ) but really why does he bother hes got his clarinet why does he want to churn 1-2 average films a year ! I suppose even a shit woody allen film is a pleasant way to waste an hour and a half ... but always uncomfortable knowing about his past - shit stinks and i keep thinking that whenever i see another actor in his films in a palate of brown/beige....

peter

This is a lovely film from Wooody Allen. I preferred it to Vicki Cristina Barcelona. OK, it's a bit over the top, but it's meant to be. Woody knows enough to be able to play with film. Wonderful.

peter

This is a lovely film from Wooody Allen. I preferred it to Vicki Cristina Barcelona. OK, it's a bit over the top, but it's meant to be. Woody knows enough to be able to play with film. Wonderful.

david glowacki

Woody Allen probably last made an innovative compelling film about 15 years ago.However he has,since than made several that are reasonably interesting.This film is one. Woody Allen seems to have lost his creative genius to make us laugh through realistic embarrassing human relationships.This is a more or less straight film, but stripped of humour,what have we got left? It is not a serious film either.There lies Allen's problems for the future.He no longer does humour,does not do serious,yet does not do gritty (eg Ken Loach) does not do tender (eg Mike Leigh) You get left with something rather flat. Allen likes London,but see it through soft focus lenses.The script at times is clunky and even embarrassing.The acting contrived and clumsy.Naomi Watts is not really up to her part (or maybe it is just the script) If Allen is not to disappear,he needs to start making serious films without the need to hide behind weak gags.3 stars

david glowacki

Woody Allen probably last made an innovative compelling film about 15 years ago.However he has,since than made several that are reasonably interesting.This film is one. Woody Allen seems to have lost his creative genius to make us laugh through realistic embarrassing human relationships.This is a more or less straight film, but stripped of humour,what have we got left? It is not a serious film either.There lies Allen's problems for the future.He no longer does humour,does not do serious,yet does not do gritty (eg Ken Loach) does not do tender (eg Mike Leigh) You get left with something rather flat. Allen likes London,but see it through soft focus lenses.The script at times is clunky and even embarrassing.The acting contrived and clumsy.Naomi Watts is not really up to her part (or maybe it is just the script) If Allen is not to disappear,he needs to start making serious films without the need to hide behind weak gags.3 stars

Mike

This film probably ranks as “mellow� in a collection of Woody Allen movies. That said, the characters in this movie do some toe-curlingly dreadful things – mainly fuelled by lust, or greed – and it’s this level of observation that I think makes Woody Allen unique. Generally his movies have a few more twists in them – I was pleasantly surprised by the few sprinkled in this movie, but equally surprised there weren’t more. Though referenced regularly, Cristal disappeared too quickly – how come she didn’t fleece Sally, then through some bizarre meeting run off with broke Alfie? Possibly this film was a little on the short side, and could have explored a few more characters. . I always think Woody Allen’s a little like Marmite – either you get/like him, or you don’t. I enjoyed this movie, and will probably see it again. Two-to-three stars, or 5/10.

Mike

This film probably ranks as “mellow� in a collection of Woody Allen movies. That said, the characters in this movie do some toe-curlingly dreadful things – mainly fuelled by lust, or greed – and it’s this level of observation that I think makes Woody Allen unique. Generally his movies have a few more twists in them – I was pleasantly surprised by the few sprinkled in this movie, but equally surprised there weren’t more. Though referenced regularly, Cristal disappeared too quickly – how come she didn’t fleece Sally, then through some bizarre meeting run off with broke Alfie? Possibly this film was a little on the short side, and could have explored a few more characters. . I always think Woody Allen’s a little like Marmite – either you get/like him, or you don’t. I enjoyed this movie, and will probably see it again. Two-to-three stars, or 5/10.

DutchFilmFan

I saw this movie in a local cinema (it started showing in Holland around Christmas 2010) and quite enjoyed it. It is certainly not Woody Allen's best film from the last 10 years but it is definitely not the worst! Maybe Woody Allen's **London** films including Match Point are probably much more appreciated by his (many) fans on the continent. Being outsiders, we probably see London from a different perspective than Londoners themselves. I especially like the whole British cast in this movie but Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas and Freda Pinto were all quite good in their non-Londoners roles as well. I am already much looking to his *Paris* film: Midnight in Paris which will open the Cannes Film Festival 2011!

DutchFilmFan

I saw this movie in a local cinema (it started showing in Holland around Christmas 2010) and quite enjoyed it. It is certainly not Woody Allen's best film from the last 10 years but it is definitely not the worst! Maybe Woody Allen's **London** films including Match Point are probably much more appreciated by his (many) fans on the continent. Being outsiders, we probably see London from a different perspective than Londoners themselves. I especially like the whole British cast in this movie but Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas and Freda Pinto were all quite good in their non-Londoners roles as well. I am already much looking to his *Paris* film: Midnight in Paris which will open the Cannes Film Festival 2011!

Gort

I think it's one of the most compelling works today. It is Woody's take on economical fiasco. He split characters into 3 different fractions according to their relationship to the money. But what is probably the most fascinating thing about it is how pulpish the drama is it's almost like he filmed letters from female magazines in which readers seek advices by telling their corny life stories. And that's because people today are perceived like that especially in London. Like for instance actress Emma Thompson who is halved as 'goddess of acting' is trying hard to copy awful Harry Potter franchise with those horrible Nanny McPhee movies just to make awful lot of money. And who can blame her when life in London demands lots of cash. So you have a bunch of stuck up people who constantly pretend to be something else or go straight with their cynicism all wrapped up into a what it seems typical Woody Allensque movie or romantic comedy just to be sucked up at the end into a black hole on which this society seems to be built on which makes it one of the darkest Allen movies. The fact that Allen chooses this 'corny' approach just makes you see how mature he is that he doesn't need to constantly be a drama queen in his exile from US.

Gort

I think it's one of the most compelling works today. It is Woody's take on economical fiasco. He split characters into 3 different fractions according to their relationship to the money. But what is probably the most fascinating thing about it is how pulpish the drama is it's almost like he filmed letters from female magazines in which readers seek advices by telling their corny life stories. And that's because people today are perceived like that especially in London. Like for instance actress Emma Thompson who is halved as 'goddess of acting' is trying hard to copy awful Harry Potter franchise with those horrible Nanny McPhee movies just to make awful lot of money. And who can blame her when life in London demands lots of cash. So you have a bunch of stuck up people who constantly pretend to be something else or go straight with their cynicism all wrapped up into a what it seems typical Woody Allensque movie or romantic comedy just to be sucked up at the end into a black hole on which this society seems to be built on which makes it one of the darkest Allen movies. The fact that Allen chooses this 'corny' approach just makes you see how mature he is that he doesn't need to constantly be a drama queen in his exile from US.