Sunday, October 30, 2011

#228: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

The reason why a lot of Woody Allen movies work is because of a charming symmetry that runs throughout the storyline. Something inexplicable but significant enough to amuse us as we go along, so much so that we're willing to forgive him for those recurring characters- a failed writer, nagging wife or that handsome intruder in a family that leads to a rampaging affair. Nearly all the three characters repeat themselves in Allen's 2010 offering You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger and yet because of a complete lack of charm, the film fails to impress.

YWMATDK is about Roy Channing (Josh Brolin), a down-on-his-luck novelist struggling to find a publisher and his wife Sally (Naomi Watts) who is empathetic but is also becoming intolerant of the instability that being a writer's wife brings to her life. Sally's mother is Helena (Gemma Jones) who has been divorced after forty years because her husband Alife (Anthony Hopkins) chose a younger woman as his partner. In terms of the narrative, the story is all over the place because the lead actors in Josh Brolin and Anthony Hopkins are poorly cast in roles that typically required vulnerability to come to the fore and neither Brolin nor Hopkins seem vulnerable at any point. These are roles tailor-made for Allen himself but in light of these poor casting choices both characters are rendered pretty much lifeless. The script consequently appears sloppy and wafer thin. What also ails the film is the absence of anything remotely funny. With the lack of that comic relief, the movie only drifts aimlessly which is a shame because Allen's forte in nearly all his previous dramas has been generous helpings witty lines and quick comebacks.

Among the other actors neither Frieda Pinto nor Antonio Banderas are able to put any soul into their characters. In fact among all the actors, only Naomi Watts and Gemma Jones could hold their own in this weak script. Shot in London, YWMATDK misses all the romantic tension that made a Match Point or even a Scoop interesting. The most interesting plot incidentally is of a theft committed by Brolin's character. That's the one part in the movie that is going to make you stand up but that too becomes a case of good things coming in small measures.

As a staunch Woody Allen fan, I have always defended the criticism leveled at Woody Allen in my friends circle. I am afraid to say, I can't find any reason to defend this film if this comes up in a discussion. All I can say is, you can give this one a miss even if you're a Woody Allen fan.

Rating: 4.2/10

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