25 October 2010

Review: "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"

Another year, another offering from Woody Allen. Last year gave us the less than inspired Whatever Works, which starred the limited Larry David. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, like many previous Woody Allen films, features a terrific ensemble. His newest film stars Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones. Nicole Kidman was originally attached to the project before a scheduling conflict with Rabbit Hole. She was replaced by English actress Lucy Punch and I wonder if the role was rewritten. The film is a return to London after a successful trip to Spain (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and return to his beloved New York. Woody Allen has previously made three films in London: Match Point (2005), Scoop (2006) and Cassandra's Dream (2007). You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is a good film. It has an interesting story and some great performances. My only fault is that I would have preferred Woody Allen to deal more with his characters after the events at the end of the film. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger had the potential to be more than just a throwaway film. It is unfortunate that Woody Allen wasted two great performances from Gemma Jones and Naomi Watts. It is an enjoyable film and Woody Allen fans will like it but at the end you will be left wishing the film had not wasted so much time in the middle.

Helena's (Jones) husband Alfie (Hopkins) has just left her. She seeks solace in a shady fortune teller named Cristal (Pauline Collins). After the divorce Helena becomes a burden on their daughter, Sally (Watts). Sally is married to Roy (Brolin), a struggling writer. Their lives become complicated by romantic entanglements. Alfie announces he has become engaged to the much younger Charmaine (Punch, a prostitute, Sally considers an affair with her boss Greg (Banderas), Roy begins having an affair with Dia (Freida Pinto), and Helena becomes involved with Jonathan(Roger Ashton-Griffiths), a charming widower. It turns out Charmaine is only after Alfie's money, Greg has become involved with an acquaintance of Sally's, Dia is engaged, and Jonathan is still devoted to his deceased wife.

It is at the end of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger when some tough decisions have been made that the film becomes interesting. For example, Alfie has run out of money and Charmaine, who has been having an affair of her own with one of Alfie's much younger colleagues, tells him she is pregnant. It is at this point that he regrets his decision to leave Helena and he wants her back. This is a much more interesting plot than Alfie divorcing Helena to marry a much younger woman. Woody Allen has shown so many times how well he understands the intricacies of human relationships and I feel like he purposely avoided going to deep into the lives of these characters. It is often hard being a dedicated Woody Allen fan. He has made so many brilliant films that it becomes harder to forgive a film for being too easy. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger does not offer anything new. It is neither awful not is it great. It is a decent film.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.

And to add to my list of Woody Allen films:

1. Hannah and Her Sisters
2. Everyone Says I Love You
3. Manhattan
4. Bullets over Broadway
5. Annie Hall
6. Crimes and Misdemeanors
7. Radio Days
8. Husbands & Wives
9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
10. Another Woman

11. The Purple Rose of Cairo
12. Broadway Danny Rose
13. Match Point
14. Love and Death
15. Sweet and Lowdown
16. Mighty Aphrodite
17. Interiors
18. Sleeper
19. Manhattan Murder Mystery
20. Zelig
21. Stardust Memories
22. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
23. Take the Money and Run
24. Deconstructing Harry
25. Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories
26. Bananas
27. Small Time Crooks
28. What's Up, Tiger Lily?
29. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
30. Melinda and Melinda
31. Alice
32. Cassandra's Dream
33. Shadows and Fog
34. Don't Drink the Water
35. September
36. A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
37. Celebrity
38. Scoop
39. Whatever Works
40. Hollywood Ending
41. Anything Else
42. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

No comments:

Post a Comment