Today we play a fascinating game on the English high-society field with Match Point, a 2005 movie by the evergreen genius Woody Allen.
Partially abandoning comedy but not his characteristic style, the American director draws the plot of the life of Chris Wilton, a young, ambitious spirit aiming to rise socially.
Having a humble background under his belt, he becomes busy as an instructor at an upscale London club, where he gets to know Tom Hewett, a wealthy heiress, and his sister Chloe.
With his tennis skills and charm, the protagonist successfully fits into their golden world and forges a bond with the family.
However, Chris falls in love with Nola Rice, a sensual aspiring actress, as well as Tom’s girlfriend, even though he understands that marriage to Chloe would provide him with a more prosperous and safe future.
So he decides to join in marriage with Chloe and accept the employment that Alec Hewett, her father, offers him. However, his love for Nola continues to simmer in his heart.
Meanwhile, Nola and Tom’s relationship sinks, and the young actress struggles to find professional success, reconnecting with Chris and beginning a secret romance threatening to crush Chris’s marriage and his place within the Hewett family.
The situation further complicates when Nola gets pregnant, urging Chris to assume parental responsibility and put an end to his marriage with Chloe.
As the protagonist desperately tries to keep hidden the affair with Nola and meet the demanding expectations of the Hewetts, his world begins to decay.
The pressure grows worse, and the predicament becomes unbearable, forcing Chris to commit extreme actions he never thought himself capable of, such as killing the beautiful and uncontrollable lover.
Passion, Luck and Ambition in Woody Allen’s Society’s Labyrinth
In the 2005 movie Match Point, Woody Allen highlights his directorial and writing prowess, delivering a narrative exploration of our relentless desire to rise to the top of society.
Skillfully interweaving themes such as adultery and lies with the romance crime genre, the American director emphasizes the crucial role of chance and luck, elements he says from the outset matter more than people want to admit.
The entire plot haunts the silent backdrop of sexual obsession, which overrides rationality and drags the characters into a spiral of increasing risk, fueling excitement and bringing them to ruin.
In this context, the protagonist inhabits a parallel life of a family without love or passion, sustained only by economic opportunism and the desire for a comfortable existence.
Not unnoticed are the many connections to Dostoevsky, an author famous for his inquiry into human psychology and examination of the complex interplay between good and evil.
Indeed, several scenes in the movie feature glimpses of the Russian writer’s books in the background, almost underscoring how personal selfishness and careerism verge on suffocating spirituality and any existentialist values.
Woody Allen shows his immeasurable talent again, approaching broad and deep universal topics with cinematic language reminiscent of the old Columbo series with the great Peter Falk.
Again, our pleasure is not in solving the mystery since we know the killer well but instead in watching him sweat out of the clumsy plot he has orchestrated to kill his mistress.
Simply absurd and fantastic is then the ending, with the ghost of the lovely Scarlett Johansson haunting Jonathan Rhys Meyers‘ sleep, although the dream is not his but rather Detective James Nesbitt‘s.
An insight that, unfortunately, will bring no justice or more deep meaning to a story that is simply what we see happening on screen.
The unsolvable moral equation of life
In a human drama as intense and engaging as Woody Allen‘s offering, it is essential to have a cast of excellent actors to bring the story’s intricate personalities to life, and you can rest assured this filmmaker never fails in this regard.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers gives a remarkable performance as the ambiguous Chris Wilton, whose multifaceted character alternates between moments of charm and cowardice, while the radiant Scarlett Johansson enchants as the sweetly complex Nola Rice, a woman who is strong and intelligent but also naive and unable to recognize the danger threatening her.
The romance is further enhanced by the presence of Emily Mortimer, who masterfully plays the wife, unaware of the love triangle she is a part of.
A woman is willing to sacrifice her own happiness, even though deep down she feels the husband does not love her, just to preserve the well-being of her family as taught by her father.
Brian Cox, whom I will always love, even if only for playing the first creepy Hannibal Lecter, gives a solid and memorable performance as this patriarch, a man of appearance alone yet low substance, measuring worth based on wealth and power.
To conclude, the criminal storyline comes alive with the performance of James Nesbitt, an often underrated actor whose talent can be appreciated in the horror miniseries Jekyll.
As the detective, Nesbitt sits alongside the eclectic Ewen Bremner, best known for being the most hilarious junkie in Trainspotting, who plays here an earnest inspector without much desire to delve into his work.
Through this apt combination of talents, Woody Allen shapes a cinematic achievement in which the characters’ depth and the twists and turns of their relationships emerge with the force and unpredictability of a tornado arriving without warning.