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Match Point

Woody Allen is back in what is hard to recognize as a Woody Allen film. Gone is the New York skyline, the sexual innuendos are rare and the neurotic whining fortunately nonexistent. Well, at least from Woody.  Match Point is set in London and this element adds a depth and outside character all its own. Like the England weather, this film is dark in places with a constant overshadowing of heaviness and turbulence. It is captivating in its refinement while offering just enough edge to let you know something is right around the corner.

Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is an ex-professional tennis player escaping the pro circuit by working as a tennis instructor in a prestigious London country club. There he develops a friendship with the well-to-do Tom (Matthew Goode) along with a lustful attraction to Tomís fiancé Nola (Scarlett Johansson).  What happens next can be summed up in a soap opera fashion. Chris marries Tomís sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) and goes to work for their dad Alec (Brian Cox) making Nola his possible, future sister-n-law and Alec his boss and father-n-law. Got it? Good.

Match Point is a great twist-a-flex about the force of lust and love and how quickly paths can cross and change when passion takes power over rational thinking. It is superbly written and the acting is flawless. Johanssonís Golden Globe nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role is well earned and she would be justified in taking the little bugger home. It is also in contention for Best Director, Best Motion Picture ­ Drama, and Best Screenplay - Motion Picture. This film could easily be looked over with the onslaught of blockbusters of late but hopefully it will get the recognition warranted.

This film is smart for allowing the writing and acting to carry it through its 124 minutes. There was no need to fill it up with gratuitous sex scenes. The passion is alive and well and you feel it along with the characters. There is no doubt what is going on but the subtlety in which it is portrayed adds to the tension of the plot and development. This was a good call on Allenís part. There is a sexiness to it that comes from what is not seen.

Match Point is rated R for some sexuality. It is a dark, destructive film that is clever till the end. I give it 4.5 out of 5 sets.

The Mungle (12/29/05)

Matt hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. Foradditional reviews and interview clips visit the website



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