first i’ll be nit picky to get it out of the way: i didn’t buy meyers as a professional tennis player. his stroke is decent, but it didn’t look professional.
the thing that most reviews of this film have in common is that this is an un-woody allen like film. good or bad, the reviews i’ve heard generally mention this. i disagree with this assertion. first, woody allen, though generally a director of a certain style, does do films that don’t fit the annie hall mold. he’s done a fake documentary, a musical, and he’s inserted darker themes and crime into his films before. so, while it’s not the prototypical woody allen film, it still has the woody allen signature. thematically it’s very similar to crimes and misdemeanors, it has the same elevated language of the rest of his films, it’s heady, and it has the same color palette as a good number of his films. also, though it’s not a comedy, it does have some comic moments which serve to break the drama a bit.
when i heard that the film was a basic moral tale my first response was: “who the hell is woody allen to be telling a moral tale?” personally i don’t see the film as a moral tale. sure, it has a simple message about luck and guilt and fidelity and priorities, but i felt these were better conveyed and explored in crimes and misdemeanors. i also felt that sven nykvist’s (bergman’s right hand) cinematography was superior, and more fitting, in that film. that said, i felt that the ending was more chilling in this film than it was in c&m, but i don’t know that c&m was going for chilling so…
one complaint i heard about the film is that the middle doesn’t evolve much; it’s sort of the same thing over and over again. i found that there were subtle changes in the dynamic of the characters and their situation. i was actually more interested in the middle part of the film than i was in the denouement, which i found to be somewhat chilling, but otherwise a let down.
i liked watching the film, but it’s not the kind of film i’m going to go back to over and over again and, for that reason alone, i can’t say it’s one of the year’s best. the acting was good, i liked allen’s command of the language, and i thought it did more for london than “manhattan” did for manhattan (but i think that movie is overrated). i guess this is one of many examples where there are people who love it and people who hate it and i come down somewhere in between.Watched in theater