Match Point

Director: Woody Allen

While some critics quickly dismissed writer/director Woody Allen’s brilliant tale of love, lust, corruption and murder as a simple rehash of his classic existential masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point stands on its own as intelligent and compelling filmmaking by an auteur filled with more tricks up his sleeve than we could possibly imagine.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is wickedly calculating as Chris, an ambitious Irish tennis player who quits the game and takes a position in England as a tennis pro, coaching upper class Londoners on their technique. Eager to climb the social ladder, Chris marries the wealthy, sweet but gently pushy Chloe (Emily Mortimer), whose father (Brian Cox) gives her Chris a prominent position at his business firm.

Finally on the path to success, Chris’s life takes a drastic turn when he finds himself irresistibly attracted to sexy struggling-actress Nola (played by Scarlett Johansson who has the sultry temptress act down cold). Soon after the mysterious femme fatale drops her eyelids and tells Chris that when it comes to her, no man has ever asked for their money back, Chris launches into an affair with Nola that ends tragically.

Calling to mind not only An American Tragedy and its cinematic version A Place in the Sun, Allen also draws inspiration from Italian operas (using arias to great effect such as in a key scene blasting Verdi’s "Othello") and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as well. Excellent and completely involving, Allen’s highly literate thriller is an amazing feat for a man of his or any age to produce in a foreign country and culture with allusions to every possible art form.

However, while Crimes and Misdemeanors is still a superior existential morality tale, in some ways the romantic triangle aspect of Match Point and the sole preoccupation with one dramatic storyline plays even better this time around in a class-obsessed British setting, thereby making us fear and loathe but ultimately understand the desperation of Chris even while we are repulsed by his actions.