By Christian DiMartino
Crash won the Best Picture Oscar back in 2005, over Brokeback Mountain, Munich, Good Night and Good Luck, and Capote. This fact still pisses everyone off to this day… except me. I actually love Crash more than those movies (but only a smidge more than Munich)… but I still wouldn’t say it was the best film of 2005. For me, it’s a second. The actual best film of 2005 is the Woody Allen masterpiece, Match Point, and it didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination. So, really, the only one who should be bitching is me.
I have loved plenty of Allen’s films. Blue Jasmine, Midnight in Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Sweet and Lowdown, Deconstructing Harry, Everyone Says I Love You, Mighty Aphrodite, Bullets Over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Manhattan, Interiors, Annie Hall… and I didn’t even the ones I simply “really like.” So this next part might be a bit of a bold statement but… Match Point might be my favorite. Yep, I said it.
Match Point is a fascinating, dark, sexy, wild, perfectly acted, written and directed film that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Allen has made films with dark elements, for sure. But not since Interiors had an Allen film felt this grim. This film is no joke. No no no. It’s a bleak, haunting masterpiece about the lengths a man will go.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a tennis instructor named Chris. Chris is at a bit of a crossroads in his life, but he sees opportunity when he meets Chloe (Emily Mortimer), the sister of his tennis pal, Tom (Matthew Goode). Chloe is a good girl. She’s the safe bet.
However, Chris is more infatuated with Tom’s girlfriend Nola (Scarlett Johansson, in the performance of her career), an exotic, mysterious American. The type of woman Allen specializes in creating. Tom’s family don’t seem to be fond of her. However, Chris can’t stop thinking about her. Soon, the two do begin an affair, but eventually, their relationship gets taken way too far.
The film toys with elements that Allen has used many times. But what he’s conceived here is kind of brilliant. Or, Chris’ plan that is. I won’t reveal it for those who still haven’t seen it (it’s been a decade, but that’s not enough time for some). But that element, along with the affair, is perfectly captured.
Meyers is strong in the lead, but he kind of has to live up to Johansson, and that’s easier said that done. She’s completely stunning here. Her performance is definitely the standout here.
The direction that the story goes in is completely shocking. It shows that, after all of these years, Allen can not only capture drama, but he can also pull off the perfect thriller. Match Point shows a great director at the top of his game, at a time when we least expected it. After all these years, he’s more than capable of writing, directing, and, by the end, stirring. It’s one you won’t be able to shake off easily. See it, if you haven’t already.