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Woody Allen
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Alexander Armstrong, Paul Kaye, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Emily Mortimer
Writing Credits:
Woody Allen

Passion. Temptation. Obsession.

Chris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is being torn apart by his desire for two very different women. Marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer) will bring him a life of wealth and success, but his true passion lies with his brother-in-law's fiancee, the stunningly sensuous but unpredictable Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Pulsing with tension, Match Point rides the dangerous line between ambition and obsession to an ending as surprising as it is chilling.

Box Office:
$15 million.
Opening Weekend
$529.434 thousand on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$23.089 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Monaural
French Monaural

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 4/25/2006

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Match Point (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 27, 2006)

For the first time in years, 2005 found a Woody Allen flick largely praised by the critics. Allen has enjoyed a rather spotty record for quite a while, but Match Point changed that. It didn’t receive unanimous acclaim, but it created a real buzz.

Perhaps that’s because Match offers Allen’s first truly impressive movie in recent memory. Set in England, we meet former professional tennis player Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). He lacks the fire to become a star, so he retires and takes a gig as an instructor at a posh London club.

There Chris meets and befriends wealthy young Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) and his family. That group includes Tom’s sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) as well as his American fiancée Nola (Scarlett Johansson). Tom’s family doesn’t much care for aspiring – but unsuccessful – actress Nola, but Chris clearly digs the sexy blonde.

On the other hand, Chloe develops a strong interest in Chris. Although his heart – and libido – lead him toward Nola, Chris’ desire for financial comfort shove him in the direction of Chloe. The movie follows this love triangle as Chris tries to decide between his heart and his head.

I must admit I don’t feel my synopsis sums up Match Point very well. My wrap-up makes the film sound like a sappy romance, but the truth differs from that impression. Match takes a radically darker tone than one may expect from my summary – or from Allen.

One definitely shouldn’t look forward to a typical Allen comedy. While Match boasts a few dryly funny moments, these are few and far between, as the flick largely stays with drama. This is atypical fare for Allen, even when compared with his other dramatic releases.

A few factors make Match stand out from other Allen flicks. For one, it doesn’t take place in Manhattan – or America, for that matter. I believe this occurred for cold financial reasons. Allen’s movies don’t bring in the crowds, so apparently he ran out of financing from American studios. The Brits were willing to foot the bill, though, so he headed across the pond.

This puts Allen outside of his usual element, and I see that as a very good thing. I grew tired of Allen’s fascination with people like him: liberal, arts-obsessed, hoity-toity New Yorkers. Since Allen sticks with the upper class, Match doesn’t stray too far from his comfort zone, and these characters shouldn’t be seen as true departures from the director’s usual personalities. Still, the shift to Brits allows definite differences to occur, and this change forces Allen to switch from his usual set of assumptions.

One other variation from the standard Woody MO comes from the absence of a doppelganger. Most Allen flicks either star Allen or features an actor who acts as a stand-in for him. That fact limits the breadth of each story since they need to accommodate his well-known idiosyncrasies.

Happily, the lack of Woody or a clone allows Match to breathe. It gets to concentrate on a main character who has nothing in common with the Woodman, so the director can dig into truly new personalities – at least for him. Chris is something different for an Allen production, and that means we find more than just the same old thing.

At this point it may appear that I like Match just because it’s an unusual effort for Allen. That’s not the case, as the movie offers pleasures beyond its uniqueness in the director’s filmography. It takes an unusual twist on the standard love triangle motif, and it certainly becomes much darker than expected. I don’t want to dig into the details since they’d become potential spoilers, but expect things to go down a chilling path.

All of this allows Match Point to turn into a notable release. With full, rich characters and a concise story, it presents Woody Allen’s best-realized movie in quite some time. This one stands out as memorable and impressive.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C-/ Bonus D-

Match Point appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie offered a mostly good transfer.

Sharpness seemed positive for the most part. Mild edge enhancement created some softness at times, particularly in wide shots. However, the majority of the movie demonstrated nice delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns. Print flaws didn’t interfere heavily, but a little grain appeared at times, and I also witnessed a few very small examples of grit and speckles.

Match went with a lightly golden palette. Though most of the hues demonstrated natural flavors, they displayed a slightly exaggerated richness. In any case, the colors came across well. The tones appeared vivid and distinct throughout the film, and it took on a nice sense of warmth. Black levels came across as deep and dense, but shadows tended to be a little thick. I thought low-light shots were watchable but could seem somewhat dense. Despite that, this was a pretty solid image.

To date, Woody Allen has chosen to ignore multi-channel audio. That means Match Point stayed with a monaural soundtrack. That also meant I had to give it the same “C-“ grade I’ve awarded his last few films. Though they offered good audio quality, the lack of multichannel material made them primitive compared to other modern films.

Speech was consistently positive. Dialogue showed nice clarity and definition, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Effects were a minor consideration, as they mostly focused on environmental material. They remained concise and accurate, though. For most of the music, Allen used low-fidelity opera recordings; the only relatively robust element popped up during the climax, as the others were scratchy and ancient. Given that music played an infrequent part in the proceedings, this wasn’t an issue. The audio was always acceptable despite the lack of multichannel information.

Allen also continues to dislike extras, so virtually nothing appears on this DVD. The Preview area includes a trailer for Munich. Nothing else shows up – not even an ad for Match Point itself.

Complex, intriguing and morally ambiguous, Match Point stands out when compared to the rest of Woody Allen’s work. It nods in the direction of his Crimes and Misdemeanors - a fact Allen tacitly acknowledges when we see the lead character read the Dostoevsky book of that title – but becomes unusually dark and dramatic for the Woodman. The DVD presents good picture with adequate sound and no extras. The lackluster quality of this release means you probably will just want to rent Match, but it definitely deserves your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1739 Stars Number of Votes: 23
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