Mar 18, 2011

[Movies] Match Point (2005)

Match Point (2005)In my continuing adventures of watching various movies starring Matthew Goode, I chanced upon this piece which had him only in a supporting role. At this point, none of the other Matthew Goode movies that I had watched after Imagine Me & You really captured the kind of characterization he had in that movie and that's been proving to be increasingly disappointed.

I didn't really expect this movie to change things given he wasn't the lead actor. So despite not achieving that goal, I was certainly surprised to find out that this movie had actually been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It didn't win though, but at the very least I could appreciate why it got nominated in the first place given the nuances and subtle complexities involved in the story.

It's nice when you enter a movie without any real idea of what it's about and in the end get pleasantly surprised with the results. This doesn't happen very often and I really need to stop watching movies just for the sake of an actor. But regardless, at least I sort of got lucky with this one and it was generally a worthwhile movie to see.

Match Point is a 2005 drama that could also be classified as a thriller just because of the fact that a crime was eventually involved. The movie was written and directed by Woody Allen, which was another thing about the movie that surprised me. Yay for no research prior to viewing!

MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThe movie centers around retired professional tennis player Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), who decides to take up a lighter job as a tennis instructor at a rather upscale London sports club. He is first assigned to work with Tom Hewitt (Matthew Goode) and the two quickly become friends because of shared interests in the opera. As he meets the family, Tom's younger sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) takes a liking to Tom whereas he feels an inexplicable attraction and chemistry with Nola (Scarlet Johansson), who is Tom's fiancée. As Chris eventually gets hired as an executive of one of the family companies, he gets more and more assimilated into the family while he struggles with his mixed feelings between Chloe and Nola.

Eventually, Chris marries Chloe but not before a moment of passion between him and Nola. Now committed to Chloe, Chris still seeks to purpose an affair with Chloe, who eventually broke up with Tom after her tryst with Chris. This complex love triangle (since Tom was quickly dropped from the running off camera) goes on to a rather violent ending of sorts.

The movie certainly had a rather British feel to things in terms of pacing of the story, how people carried themselves, the general feel of the whole piece. Yes, I'm aware that Woody Allen is American and thus I was impressed how everything felt right and this goes beyond just having the right actors with the right accents or anything shallow and silly like that. It was well placed within the English setting it aspired for an it helped define the tone of the movie as a whole.

The complex relationships between characters and the rich interconnections between them seem a staple of Woody Allen films, which is certainly not a bad thing. It keeps the characters very vibrant and real to the view and makes it easier to understand the complex motivations of each and thus provides explanations for each of their actions. I'm not saying that a lot of the less than scrupulous stuff that takes place was justified - I'm just saying that the story was written in such a way that we have a general understanding of what motivated each of them to do what what they did.

Admittedly, it wasn't totally perfect for all characters all throughout. Goode's role as Tom started out pretty strong and then he drops out of the second third of the movie or so while we focus entirely on Chris. Even the character of Nola sort of went weird in the second half since her being an instinctive match for Christ turned to her becoming a whiny, needy mistress. These things do happen, I know, but for a two-hour movie, you'd think the change would have had more foreshadowing or something.

The movie had a subtle and sometimes cheeky sense of humor at work - another mark of Allen's influence throughout the movie. Even the final resolution had a nice bit of near fourth wall breaking as the characters on-screen mouthed what we as audience members were thinking about how realistic things were. To some extent, I wish more of the movie matched the tone of that last arc in the story - there were earlier bits that felt a bit slow and meandering, but that happens in movies of this length.

In the end, I liked the piece as a whole, although I as not particularly appreciate of any one performance in the movie. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers never really appealed to me in terms of his acting or his physical appearance. It probably didn't help that his character in The Tudors seemed too similar to his character here, thus making it easy to assume that he'd try to sleep with almost anything that moved.

Match Point is definitely an interesting movie that is part romantic drama, part crime thriller and still entertaining as a whole. It gets 3.5 annoying rants from Chloe because of her desire to get pregnant before the age of 30 out of a possible 5.

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