by guest writer
Match Point was at the moment of its release Woody Allen’s favourite personal movie. Going back to the lost masters of classic cinema like Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch, the director uses the amoral to search for cynicism and finds it ingeniously transformed in great entertainment. Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is leading the impressive cast as a young tennis player, recently retired from the professional activity, trying to make a new living for himself as a tennis coach. Wilton has a foggy past and throughout the beginning of the movie we feel a rising tension regarding his moral status. One of Chris’ remarks when interviewed for the new job is the one where he explains the role of luck in human affairs is over and over disparaged. This statement becomes haunting and its harsh implications are later revealed. Chance is the fool’s name for fate! Using a Hitchcock borrowed technique, Woody Allen is fooling the audience and deliberately misdirects the viewer by creating an adorned tale disguising the darker side.
Including elements of film noir such as femme-fatale and the character with the dubious past, Match Point is a rich psychological thriller and is not at all a stereotype Woody Allen movie that you will recognize with the first few scenes, which makes it one of my favourite, if not my favourite film of the director. Of course, within the lines there are obvious pointers to who the screenwriter and the director is, but this only adds to the quality of the film.
Hunger, lust, ambition and greed are the aspirations of our main character. Within a short period of time, after he is acquainted and befriends Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode), Wilton is presented with lots of opportunities he can’t resist. From a tennis coach to a management position in a multinational company, you will be witnesses to the rise and fall of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character. The film is the starting point of Scarlett Johansson’s collaboration with Allen as his muse, followed by Scoop (2006) and Vicky, Christina, Barcelona (2008). Scarlett’s approach to the role of Nola Rice fits her like a glove. The scene where Chris meets Nola raises the temperature from an agitated politeness to a full sexual desire. You will surely discover a discrete touch of and an ode to George Stevens’ A Place in the Sun (1951).
photo: still from the film; production credits