Match Point

Film
Match Point

Time Out says

Finally, a Woody Allen film to get verklempt about. These last several years have been hard on his fans, maybe even harder on critics, miserably reporting on death knells like Celebrity and Hollywood Ending. But Woody's back: back to the richly appointed drawing rooms of the English upper class, back to tennis lessons and yachting off the coast of Greece. Er, who is this Woody guy anyway?

Match Point, with its London setting and uniformly non-neurotic cast, certainly feels fresh from Allen; even his typical white-on-black titles get a booster shot via the strains of, not Duke or Cole, but tragic Enrico Caruso. Yet the plot itself (scripted, as usual, by the director) is a welcome throwback to the late '80s flush of seriousness that peaked with Crimes and Misdemeanors. This time, it's a social-climbing tennis pro (Rhys-Meyers) who gets swept up in the darker machinations of infidelity, his attentions turning from his wealthy wife (Mortimer) to a blond American sexpot (Johansson).

To tell more would spoil the thrills of Allen's most vital film in a decade; truthfully, Match Point ultimately doesn't have the richness of his all-time greats, deprived as it is of his Jewish patois and borough-savvy eye. But in swapping Manhattan for a slightly more expansive island, the director has gotten closer to his career-long obsessions with Bergmanesque guilt and cosmic absurdity. Such comforting cynicism could come from no other chap.—Joshua Rothkopf

(Opens Wed 28; see Now playing for venues.)

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