critics seem to be crazy about match point: check out the rave reviews. unfortunately, i don’t have enough knowledge of woody allen’s work to be able see this film in the context of his career, nor a special fondness for the guy.
i have no idea what he was trying to do in match point. if the idea is that life is 10% talent and 90% luck, er, okay. if the idea is that scarlett johansson and jonathan rhys meyers are gorgeous, i’m with you, woody, though i have to say you have always creeped me out, and scarlett is TWENTY, for fuckssakes!
i don’t know, dude. affairs are hard to get out of, the high life is hard to throw to the winds, passion leads us to dark places, and babies have a nasty way of popping up if you fuck enough. thing is, none of this interests me very much. or maybe it’s just the way you present it, woody.
since no one posted comments yet, i feel all right about extending my thoughts on match point and actually, ahem, saying something of substance about it! chris wilton (rhys meyers) is a talented tennis player who doesn’t have the wherewithal or the inclination to duke it out on the professional tennis circuit. an irish bloke of limited means, he applies to a very exclusive london club as a tennis instructor. soon enough he encounters tom hewett (matthew goode), a member of the club who wants to brush up on his tennis skills. tom is the only son (he has a sister) of a very upper class english family which seems to embody all the features we tend to associate with upper class english families: enormous wealth, a certain down-to-earth but very genteel bonhomie, laid-backedness, a passion for booze, long weekends in the country, the occasional hunting party… you get the idea. on top of all that, the hewetts are also incredibly fond of each other, and the parents would do just about anything for their children — who, mind you, are just about as genteel, sweet, generous, and above-it-all as their loving parents.
soon our boy chris is happily paired with chloe hewett, the miraculous emily mortimer, while tom has been going out for a while with a gorgeous struggling actress from (of all places) boulder, colorado, nola rice (scarlett johansson). sprinkle on all this a generous helping of high art (chloe is in the process of opening her own art gallery and both chris and tom are inordinately fond of opera), and you have a fairly complete picture of the high life that lands on chris’s lap.
the fly in the ointment is that very soon chris becomes sexually obsessed with nola rice. to further complicate things, tom and nola break up just after chris and chloe get married.
this is a movie that is meant to exude sexual tension: primarily between chris and nola (who, truth be told, doesn’t seem to give a toss about him for 2/3 of the film), but also, maybe, between chris and tom, though this is very subtle indeed. woody allen is clearly winking at the talented mr. ripley, and jonathan rhys meyers is nothing if not androgynous. when chris and tom have a chat after their first tennis lesson, tom is totally taken with him, and is especially blown away by the fact that chris shares his passion for opera. when he invites him to the opera the following evening in the family box, tom is clearly aware that he’s getting a bit too familiar.
overplaying the homosexual element on tom’s part would be seriously overreaching. after a while, tom simply becomes part of the family decor and disappears from the (operatic) dramas that envelop chris’s life. but one should certainly not underestimate the homosexual element in chris’s life. chris loves the high life: he loves his expensive clothes (which he wears impeccably), he loves his chauffer, he loves his amazing house, and he loves the luxury that hanging out with the hewett family affords him. patricia highsmith and the talented mr. ripley have indelibly associated these tropes with homoeroticism (and i could add allan hollinghurt’s the line of beauty, another depiction of a gay boy in love with a substitute family exuding wealth and gentility). also, chris doesn’t like to have sex with his wife, and in spite of the fact that neither seems to have any fertility problem, they cannot conceive.
emily mortimer is perfect in her sweetness and cluelessness (chris could fuck nola in front of her and she’d find a perfectly good explanation for it). i fell in love with her in lovely & amazing (2001) and match point has definitely not changed my mind. but i do have a problem with johanssen and rhys meyers. though the latter is perfect in his mr. ripley-ish quality, the sexual sparks just don’t fly. maybe the on-screen chemistry is just not there, or maybe this film is much less about sexual obsession than it is about landing a place in the world and hanging on to it, whatever the cost.