10 Years: “Match Point”

Some films are never that simple to understand. They’e written in such a way that you have to really be paying attention to pick up on every detail. It’s sometimes the little things that make a film even more interesting and fun than you’d expect.

The Dreamworks Pictures film “Match Point”, is a fascinating look at the many wants of people.

This drama stars Brian Cox (upcoming projects “War and Peace (2016)”, “Forsaken”), Matthew Goode (upcoming season “Downton Abbey”, “The Good Wife”), Scarlett Johansson (upcoming films “The Jungle Book (2016)”, “Hail, Caesar!”), Emily Mortimer (“Doll & Em”, “10,000 Saints”), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (upcoming “Roots (2016)”, “Stonewall”), and Penelope Wilton (upcoming season “Downton Abbey”, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”).

The film was written and directed by Woody Allen (“Irrational Man”, “Magic in the Moonlight”).

The film originally opened in a limited release on Dec. 28, 2005 and a wide release on Jan. 20, 2006. The film would go on to be nominated for one Academy Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and two online Film & Television Association Awards.

There’s something wrong with me. I keep picking films I haven’t seen in ages. Because of this, the experience itself is so drastically different, for better or worse, but it usually has me wondering about where my head was at when I bought the film or even saw it for the first time. Well, with this one, more than some of the others, I’m definitely wondering what was going through my mind. Even now, older and wiser and some such crap like that, I feel like I’ve missed something within this film. I’m still thinking about this film, and not just to see if I like it in general, but on what it was like to watch it and what all the film means. Hopefully I have time in the new year to see it again and see if my views can be changed at all.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a film by Allen. Because of this it’s difficult to say if I like his approach to writing. In this case, it seems like it’s more of a mixture. I do, but I don’t. This film is certainly creative, and has moments of intrigue, but it largely seems to come together in a bits and pieces kind of way. Nothing ever, except for the affair between Meyers and Johansson’s characters, seems to be that straight forward. Sadly it’s not because this film is using some non-linear way of telling this story, but because a lot of the scenes seem random. At some point, and this has been a theme, I believe, of my experiences watching Allen’s films, that I feel lost within a very simple film. I couldn’t always keep track of what the plot was, or even a subplot, if one existed. To me, and I could be alone here, that’s not really a good thing. We’ll see what I think when I get to Allen’s film “Scoop” next year.

What I was certain of was Meyers and Johansson. They were on fire! Their chemistry, from the moment you met them, just radiated off the screen. I also could not tear myself away from them. I had to keep watching. Mind you, it’s not like the other actors bored me, but I could easily gaze elsewhere as they didn’t pull me in in this same way. This chemistry or connection, whatever, certainly sold the relationship and eventual affair quite well. It also, later on, sold behaviors and emotions that each of their characters had when things got complicated.

Johansson wasn’t the only one Meyers had great chemistry with. Mortimer, who plays his wife, did too, albeit a different type of chemistry. I never doubted the interest these two characters had, but could understand Meyers’s draw towards Johansson in the first place. I found that the life that Meyers and Mortimer had and cultivated as the film went on, was quite interesting overall. Never boring but also not too exciting. It’s as if it’ lived in the middle. This is one of those areas I began thinking on, am still thinking on. Meyers has a good thing going for him, so why is he spending time with Johansson? I found it that it wasn’t out of lack of love or any kind of disinterest. He still wanted something he couldn’t have. There was a kind of allure there, more so than danger. And, as it turned out, he wasn’t the only one that wanted so much more.

This, in part is where a lot of the film’s intrigue comes into play. I found this film to be quite fascinating. I think it’s because, this film deals with an upperclass family, in England. I mean, come on, isn’t this the same reason many people watch “Downton Abbey”? Other people’s lives are usually quite fascinating. When they’re so far removed from your own, there may even be a bit more fascination. Even with one parent of Mortimer’s and Goode’s characters, I couldn’t get enough. Wilton was a delight. I’ve really only, consistently that is, seen her in “Downton Abbey” (I really gotta stop with these references, it seems much), and here she’s just so different and I like it. Mainly it’s that she doesn’t take to Johansson’s character and you learn a lot about her in this way, which in part is how the affair begins for Meyers and Johansson. For a lot of the characters, it’s also about the things they want. Mortimer, for instance, wants to be pregnant, which isn’t all that unheard of for married people. For her, it just isn’t happening right away, so she wants it even more. It also doesn’t matter what the wants are or how ridiculous, but it’s the fact that we all seem to want more. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. It’s what makes me think about this film.

And I almost forgot one crucial aspect of this film, in terms of what the characters want. Meyers eventually wants his complicated life to go back to being relatively simple. On this, it helped that he was in love with his wife and enjoyed the life he had, but his affair became too much. So, he did what he needed to do to make it all go away. After Meyers kills Johansson and the neighbor, what becomes fascinating, although a bit bizarre that Allen went on in this way, was that we followed the police investigation into the murders. I loved being able to see how Meyers dealt with this all, as it furthered his character’s morality, but it too seemed unnecessary. I guess the film’s relatively slow unfolding didn’t help with this. By the time Johansson leaves the film for good, I’m ready for it to all be over. It seems like it should be. But it goes on and we get a sort of thriller out of it. Will he be caught or can he still live the life he wants? Everything really is intriguing.

Some films require more involvement and even more viewings than others. They’re constructed in ways that aren’t plainly laid out. Of course, at the same time, it’s this exact thing that could help or hurt a film. Some aren’t done so well. Those that are and those that create them, can truly enjoy that they’ve done so much more than entertain. It’s so difficult to find films that are truly smart and maybe even challenge us.

The only slightly misleading trailer:


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