Match Point is a Woody Allen film which hardly gets a mention when people recite Woody films off the top of their heads. It’s no wonder since Match Point is a major departure from Woody’s accustomed routes and ‘brand’ such as the romantic comedy genre. Instead Match Point is a slick psychological (Hithcockesque) thriller. It contains many subtle references to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and for anyone who has been following this blog will know I’m in awe of that book. So naturally a movie which does that has already got me by the short and curlies.
IMDB storyline: From a humble background and with traditional values, Irish Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is still struggling financially despite being a recently retired high ranked tennis pro. He has taken a job as a tennis instructor at an upscale London tennis club, although he knows there is a better life for him somewhere down the road. He is befriended by one of his students, wealthy Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). Chris starts to date Tom’s sister, Chloe Hewett (Emily Mortimer), a girl-next-door type who is immediately attracted to Chris. Chloe quickly knows she wants to marry Chris, and through her businessman father, Alec Hewett (Brian Cox), tries to help Chris and their future by getting him an executive job in Alec’s company. In his life with the Hewetts, Chris begins to enjoy the finer things in life.
Where I think Woody Allen is at his finest in the dramatic realm is when he explores conflicts and tension between social classes. His most intriguing film dealing with ‘classes’ is Blue Jasmine for mine, but Match Point is also highly engaging with respect to the interplay between characters of different classes. Match Point is geared towards someone trying to conform to a social class that will secure him a better life, where as Blue Jasmine is about the complete opposite; a high society woman who is unwilling to enjoy positive,and meaningful social interactions with people she considers lower down on the social ladder.
Like the protagonist Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, Irishman Chris Wilton in Match Point is a very clever and manipulative rationalist. He says in one scene: ‘I think Faith is the path of least resistance.’ He also draws analogies of life being like a game of tennis. When the ball hits the net, it’s only a matter of luck whether it drops on the far side or lands back on your own. As an audience member when I was perplexing over the macabre ending, these words I found came back to haunt me as it might do you.
My own thoughts about Match Point aligns with mstomaso: (It) draws its audience in quietly and slowly at first, defining its territory as a smart, hip, and sophisticated character study early on (in no way unexpected for Mr. Allen), but then it takes an irreversibly sinister turn…. The story line of Match Point is powerful, disturbing, and exceedingly clever. Philosophical folks will likely want to talk about it afterward. Some will find it frustrating and others will find it pretentious. Well, from my perspective, it is simply damn good story-telling.
- This is Writer and Director Woody Allen’s favorite movie of his own.
- Because it was filmed in Britain, Writer and Director Woody Allen had to have a certain percentage of British cast and crew. Apparently, he made his quota before casting Kate Winslet. After she backed out to spend more time with her family, Allen cast American Scarlett Johansson.
- In a nod to Sir Alfred Hitchcock, a playbill showing Woody Allen’s face in deadpan is briefly seen as Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) arrives at the Tate museum to meet Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson).
- This was Woody Allen’s first movie since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) to make a profit in the United States.
- The “Crime and Punishment” elements were also used in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), which was heavily compared by movie critics with this project at the time of its release.