Film Review – Match Point

Spoilt and Temperamental

(Originally published on entertainmentwise.com, January 2006)

It starts like every other Woody Allen film you’ve ever known. White text on black card with the cast listed alphabetically. There the similarity ends. This is not a Woody Allen film as we know it captain.

For a start, Match Point is set in London and not Noo Yawk, the natural prairies of the greater spotted Woody (whose breeding patterns include rather young adopted daughters). And for another, there’s no laughs. For those aliens who preferred his earlier, funnier films this is as far removed as is possible to get.

And there’s another reason why this ain’t no Woody Allen film like we’ve ever seen before. He seems to be convinced that actors we would consider idiots telling us to get cheaper car insurance are worthy of being his stars. Match Point stars, and I can’t say this significantly enough, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

JRM, as I’m going to call him from now on as I can’t be arsed writing his full worthless name out, is not very good. He was the star of the crap Velvet Goldmine, ‘playing’ the Bowie part opposite Ewan McGregor’s Iggy. He was the star of the BBC’s wince-inducing adaptation of Gormenghast. He is in possession of a neat pair of cheekbones and lips and is otherwise completely untalented.

Being set in Britain, Match Point is notable for having quite a lot of fine British talent aboard, mostly doing near enough to fuck all to make no difference. If you look closely, you can see them all looking at JRM and thinking the same thing: how the hell did you get this?

Alexander Armstrong is the boss of a tennis club and it’s his job to introduce us to the void that is JRM. Paul Kaye is a wideboy estate agent who shows him his tiny new flat. Apparently JRM is a tennis pro. Okay, I can handle that. Oh, and he’s Irish. His new best mate and his family tells him he’s Irish, so he must be. Except JRM isn’t doing an Irish accent. He’s not even doing a posh Irish accent that we could mistake for British but which has the odd softened vowel a la Terry Wogan. Mind you I don’t think JRM is English either. He’s from some weird fossilised planet somewhere where the trees are actors.

Sadly, this film comes to us with a huge amount of good reviews in advance, mostly from our American cousins. No doubt they were well impressed by the normally moribund Woody Allen doing something different and opted to ignore the treelike leading actor not doing anything resembling an Irish accent. How are they supposed to know what it sounded like? Similarly with Allen, who probably wrote “Irish” in the script with not much idea of what it actually meant.

Anyway, let’s move on, although it’s hard to do as the movie is moving at a snail’s pace. Like all idiots abroad, Allen heads to the tourist spots, and makes his characters mentally sub-normal in order to facilitate this. “I’ve got to meet Chloe at the Tate Modern. There’s a new painter she wants to show me.”

Chloe is a lady who he quite likes. She likes him more. They marry. “I want you to make me pregnant.” His new brother-in-law has a girlfriend. “She’s spoilt and temperamental.” JRM likes her more than his wife, most likely ‘cos she’s played by Scarlett Johansson and therefore has lips equal to his (what is it with lips these days?). “You’ve got sensual lips,” says JRM with all the passion of a weekend in Cleethorpes.

That’s an hour of the film dealt with. Meanwhile, we fleetingly see Mark Gatiss saying not a word. And John Fortune has precisely one line as JRM’s chauffeur. No doubt they all signed on because it was a Woody Allen film and he is a bit of a hero, but I wonder if any of them would have signed on if they knew the rubbish they would be taking all too brief a part in.

JRM walks across the room as if it’s something he’s unfamiliar with and gets slightly better. He has to be a bit evil now, and it’s so much easier for him to do that than play any kind of normal human being. His affair with Scarlett ain’t going well so he decides to bump her off, as you do. Now it’s James Nesbitt’s turn to look a complete prat as it’s up to him to investigate the crime. Irish accents do actually exist in this universe.

Ewan Bremner helps him, possibly overloading the Celtic accents but, despite this huge amount of talent, Woody decides to disappoint us all and let JRM off, when we were all looking forward to a Braveheart-style hanging, drawing and quartering.

Rumour has it that Woody Allen’s next two films are going to be set in Britain as well. So that’s more London landmarks and hopelessly unreal posh people to look forward to. I haven’t had much of an opinion about immigrants before now, but is there any way of kicking this patronising git out now before he does any more damage?

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

One Response to Film Review – Match Point

  1. John Smith says:

    enjoyable read. enjoyed the post very much.

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