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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
No Heart or Soul
by Betty Jo Tucker

Whatís luck got to do with it? Practically everything, according to Match Point, a new movie by Woody Allen. The film follows an opportunistic, Dublin-born former tennis pro who becomes rich and successful in London through marriage to the sister of a wealthy friend. When his new lifestyle becomes threatened by an affair with a sexy wannabe actress, the apprehensive young man takes drastic steps to solve his problem. Will his luck hold out or will he pay for his misdeeds? Unfortunately, although billed as a thriller, this movie offers very little suspense and fails to present major characters we care about.

On the plus side, Match Point boasts beautiful shots of London (Notting Hill, the South Bank Arts Complex, etc.) and glorious opera music in the background of many scenes. And Scarlett Johansson (Girl with a Pearl Earring) looks absolutely stunning as the femme fatale. She exudes a kind of Marilyn Monroe-type vulnerability here which, sadly, isnít enough to evoke much sympathy for the demanding woman her character becomes. Johanssonís steamy love scenes with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham), who seems miscast in the lead role, appear a bit too frantic, and her melodramatic behavior during the last part of the film doesnít come off as convincing as it should. However, this performance earned her a 2005 Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe nomination, so maybe Iím being too harsh on this usually wonderful young actress.  

Also hard to believe is the wife played by Emily Mortimer (who was totally genuine in Dear Frankie). Yes, some women might be as naÔve as her character -- but not one with such immense resources at her disposal and for the length of time depicted in Match Point. 

Several moviegoers have expressed disappointment with Woody Allen (Melinda and Melinda) for cannibalizing Crimes and Misdemeanors in the making of Match Point; a few even call this latest film a remake of his earlier drama. That doesnít bother me. My biggest problems with this movie relate to a lack of energy from Rhys-Meyers and the filmís snail-like pace. To say Iím surprised about Rhys-Meyersí lackluster acting is definitely an understatement. The handsome young actor bowled me over with his enthusiastic performance in T.V.ís Elvis. In contrast, as an anti-hero in Match Point, he projects very little screen charisma. Perhaps the director wanted to tone down everything in order to create a more stiff-upper-lip British feel to the story. If so, itís Allenís fault -- not Rhys-Meyersí. 

Under Allenís direction, Match Point moves so slowly that when something actually happens, itís too late to stimulate much interest in the proceedings. Yes, the last part of the film manages to resemble a thriller; thereís a murder and a police investigation. And the ending gives viewers a question to ponder: how important is luck -- rather than justice -- in determining our future? By that time, however, I had already tuned out on Match Point, mostly because itís a movie with no heart or soul. 

(Released by DreamWorks and rated ďRĒ for some sexuality.)

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