Sunday, 19 December 2010

REVIEW: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Dir.: Woody Allen.
With: Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Frieda Pinto, Josh Brolin. 
Already released in mainland Europe, on limited release in the states. UK – March 2011.

‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ opens with the famous quote from ‘Macbeth’ that “life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.  The story truly reflects this, it focuses on the futility of life; the character’s trifling passions have no meaning on the grander scale of things. It is a bitter comedy that demonstrates that when you think that things cannot get any worse, they do. The movie is another typical creation by Mr Allen. If you like his style, this film is not going to disappoint. It has the same glossy feel as the other films by him – London is sunny and the people are beautiful. The characters are sketchy caricatures of the types we are bound to meet in real life: a well-to-do man going through a mid-life crisis, buying sports cars, hitting on women in clubs and acquiring the most ridiculous new wife called Charmaine (Anthony Hopkins, I salute you for having enough self-irony to be able to play this guy), a washed-up one-hit writer (Josh Brolin), a beautiful stranger in red (Frieda Pinto), a sensible daughter with a crazy mother (Naomi Watts) and her artsy, Spanish and extremely seductive boss (Antonio Banderas).  Sounds like Woody Allen decided to capitalise on the success of Javier Bardem in ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’.

The story is not very deep, the dialogue lacks the sharpness of ‘Annie Hall’ and London is meek in comparison to Barcelona; and yet, the film is funny and enjoyable, mainly through schadenfreude. Allen does not sympathise with his characters, they populate his fictional world, bump into each other, have arguments and carry on living their train-wreck lives.

But you know, Woody Allen is 75. He’s made over 40 feature films, each one of them tackling similar issues, his voyeuristic tendencies and fetish for younger women have been made fun of on million occasions. Give the guy a break. He’s clearly seen enough of life to be bored by it and his lack of sympathy for people is probably caused by the many disappointments he’s experienced. He still weaves entertaining stories, their success over the years show that the audiences can relate to his basic existentialism. 

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