Sunday, October 9, 2011

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(98 min, 2010)
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin

 
You will see a bland, uninteresting movie.

I consider myself lucky. One of my favorite directors, Woody Allen, makes one movie a year. It's almost a luxury, for fans, to have this guarantee that each year, we will get to see something new. Sadly with “You will meet a tall dark stranger” for the first time, since many years that I've been Allen's fan, I feel his creative productivity and the urge to make new movie every 12 months may be a bad thing. Terrible thing, in fact.
The movie follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Hopkins) and Helena (Jones), and their daughter Sally (Watts) and husband Roy (Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds. After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window.

Despite the critics and audience hating “Cassandra's dream” and “Whatever Works” I enjoyed those movies. That's not everything – universally bashed “Anything Else” is my favorite movie by Woody. But there is not much to enjoy in “You will meet a tall dark stranger” and it's his weakest film since “Celebrity”. There are so many things wrong with this film, I don't know where to start. But the biggest flaw is that almost every story arc is not even remotely interesting nor funny or memorable.



Allen again commits grave mistake of not casting himself in the role he would be perfect in. It backfired with Kenneth Brannagh in “Celebrity”, with Larry David in “Whatever Works” and now sir Anthony Hopkins, although doing infinitely better job than previously mentioned two feels a bit off – he doesn't fit in Allen's universe. Naomi Watts, who definitely has talent, is very good in some scenes and just plain terrible in others, as with cringe worthy, horrendous scene near the end of the movie where she fights with her mother – the lines Watts was shouting in blind fury and with total inability to be convincing about it was one of the worst moments I saw her in. Antonio Banderas is completely bland, which somehow didn't shock me. Freida Pinto is fine and shows some promise, though, I felt like she wasn't in the movie enough. Lucy Punch is a good choice for the character she's playing. I thought “Great casting, Woody”. And then I find out the character of prostitute who marries much older man was meant to be played by Nicole Kidman. Kidman and Punch are as different as it goes. It seems as lost as with script Allen also lost himself with casting.

Scenes which include Punch and Hopkins are funny at times, but mostly they seem pointless and often tiring. The scenes surrounding their conversations - the advances men make towards Punch's character are terrible. I didn't even have a feeling I was watching Woody Allen's movie anymore, just some cheap imitation. Gemma Jones, who plays Sally's mother is one of the few highlights of this movie, her story arc sadly isn't. It's simply boring and not worthy of such a fine performance. But there is a part of this movie I liked a lot – Roy (great Josh Brolin) and Dia's segment. Their story is sweet, romantic and ironic – had the whole movie was made about them this could really have worked. That's a big problem with Allen's newest movie – it's rushed. I feel like this time Allen truly didn't spend enough time developing the script and the image of the movie in his mind. The idea was there, but the execution of it is very disappointing. The stories presented in the movie don't match, they don't create one whole piece, just a mixture of scenes – some great, some truly awful, thrown together in one movie.

At least the cast is impressive and I'm going to add few points to the score, only because I was so happy to see Anna Friel on screen – one of the most beautiful and talented actresses, who should be in more movies. Overall it's a waste of time. If you haven't seen any movie by Allen (I wonder if there are such people among movie goers) you'll like it, but if you saw most of his films it will make you cry with despair at times.

50/100

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