- Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Chris Wilton
- Scarlett Johansson as Nola Rice
- Emily Mortimer as Chloe Hewett Wilton
- Matthew Goode as Tom Hewett
- Brian Cox as Alec Hewett
- Penelope Wilton as Eleanor Hewett
A dramatic thriller that takes aim at the price of ambition, lust and luck, Match Point is gripping viewing and an excellent change of pace for Woody Allen.
Chris Wilton is a tennis instructor, who used to be a pro. As the film opens, he gets a job at a swanky club in London. While there, he strikes up a friendship with the wealthy Tom Hewett, who introduces Chris to his world of riches and his sweet sister Chloe. Chris is someone who wants to strive for something in life, mainly a sense of position, and slowly he integrates himself into Tom’s family and climbs the social ladder due to his charming nature. The family approves of the charming Chris and he soon becomes engaged to Chloe, who he really cares for. As he becomes a part of the wealthy life, he encounters Nola Rice, a struggling American actress who is engaged to marry Tom. A sexual spark is apparent from the first meeting and as Chris thinks more about Nola, the two eventually give into a passionate encounter. Afterwards, ambitious Chris marries Chloe, but can’t shake the thought of the bewitching Nola. Many months later, he encounters her again and as she has broken with Tom, he resumes his clandestine affair with her. Meanwhile, Chloe is desperate to have a child and becomes suspicious that Chris is straying from the marriage bed. Yet Chris, with all his ambition and want for his ideal life to stay well, is not prepared for when Nola becomes particularly temperamental and significantly obsessed with Chris and the idea of him leaving his wife for her. Chris is put into a tailspin as his actions to keep her quiet seem to have no affect on her and she starts to become a lot more unstable. Fearing that his perfect existence is going to crumble, he realises that he may have to take drastic action to keep his affair silent and carry on his charmed life that he has become very accustomed to.
Match Point represents Woody Allen at some of his most serious and passionate, tinged with more than a real hint of darkness. He has looked at themes of fate and luck before, but here it has a really philosophical edge that also examines the morality of ones actions with a real feeling of impending doom. Although it has traces of humour which is customary from Allen, he keeps it controlled and allows the complexity and drama to unfold without overloading it with humour. He injects a real sense of urgency into the proceedings that is felt throughout the entire film. Match Point also stands as one of Allen’s most sensual movies, filled with some really passionate love scenes between Chris and Nola that shows the sheer animal attraction and magnetism between them. Allen also dispenses with his usual jazz music, instead using opera that captures the undeniable passions and encroaching fears that envelope Chris. Even the visuals have a moody atmosphere fear to them which adds further impact to the tale of consequence and luck. I would suggest this film to people who don’t usually watch Allen’s stuff as it may just change your mind.
Where Match Point really soars is with the characters and the splendid acting on display. In the lead role of the social climber threatened by his actions, Jonathan Rhys Meyers excels at making Chris both a selfish and conflicted character. He could have been just a cold, unfeeling character, but Meyers lets us see both sides of a character whose near destruction is built from his own hands and his own ambitious nature. Equally as excellent is Scarlett Johansson, who turns in an exemplary performance. Playing Nola as something of a femme fatale, but injecting determination, capricious anger and obsession into the mix, Johansson succeeds at fleshing her out and making a deep impression with a bewitching and layered performance. And the chemistry shared between Meyers and Johansson is all sorts of sexy, electric and complicated. Emily Mortimer is very good as the privileged Chloe, who is won over by Chris yet senses that something is not quite right. Matthew Goode is impressive with the material he is given, as are Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton as the rich parents welcoming Chris into their world.
With great writing, a multitude of interesting themes and a genuinely serious maturity about it, Match Point stands as an accomplished film from the prolific Woody Allen.