DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Thursday, 24 February 2011

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010) dir. Woody Allen
Starring: Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Gemma Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, Antonio Banderas


By Alan Bacchus

There’s nothing to really dislike about this picture, but the fact it’s Woody Allen and another film in a mostly continuous string of forgettable features in the past 15 years or so, it's a mostly frustrating film to watch.

If Woody Allen’s name weren’t on this picture, I might have thought this was an extended episode of some HBO television show. Certainly nothing big screen worthy or even remotely comparable to his body of work in the 70’s and 80’s.

Woody’s warring couple in this one is Sally and Roy Channing. Sally (Watts) an underachieving art curator who’s recent got her foot in the door getting coffee and lunch for an esteemed Museum director (Banderas), Roy (Brolin), her hubby, is a self-centred failed author who desperately needs his latest book to find a publisher. There’s also Sally’s mother and father Helena (Jones)and Alfie (Hopkins), recently separately and both silently competing with the each other to move on with their lives.

As the title suggests, each of the characters will find new love, which will test the inner moral fortitude of each of the characters. For Roy, he becomes smitten with a young gal living in an adjacent building, Sally is tempted by the flirtations of her boss, Alfie starts dating a prostitute after showering her with lavish gifts and poor Helena, jealous of Alfie’s arm candy, finds the most promising love affair after drowning her sorrows in the false hope of a fortune teller.

This is a phoned-in film, Woody fails to truly put his characters through the ringer like he did in his far and away best picture in 15 years, Match Point, wherein Allen puts Jonathan Rhys-Meyers through excrutiatingly painful journey of love, sex and murder, Roy and Alfie only receive a light dusting.

It’s the usual whimsical tone of Allen here, dramatic conflict and humour in equal amounts, but light as air, and ultimately unexceptional and unmemorable. The best character is Roy, played with delight by Josh Brolin, who proves he can do just about anything right now. He’s a classic Allen character, egotistical but wholly juvenile and subject to the whims of his libido. His career trajectory provides a rather fun punchline to his shameless actions against his poor and suffering wife – a devious black comedic moment which reminds us of the only inspired moment of the past 15 years of Woody, the treachery of Rhys-Meyers in Match Point. If Woody mined the drama and suspense from Roy’s final moment he could have had a movie on par with Match Point.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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