Tuesday, February 22, 2011
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - DVD Review
Starring Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Anna Friel, Pauline Collins, Ewen Bremner and Roger Ashton-Griffiths.
Directed by Woody Allen.
It's not bad, per se, not enterting the level of the painful like Whatever Works. But it is frightfully unnecessary. Woody Allen's been cranking out movie for forty years, but he doesn't seem to have anything new to add to the conversation. I think we all get it. He distrusts marriage, women, happiness, and so we get another stellar cast going through the motions of selfish behavior.
Okay, let's run through this. Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin are Sally and Roy, unhappily married. He wrote a best-selling novel but hasn't been able to sell a second book in several years, draining their resources and her patience with him. Sally is drawn to her boss (Antonio Banderas) while Roy is drawn to their new neighbor (Frieda Pinto). Meanwhile Watts' parents have recently split. Her father Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) is into feeling younger, and therefore hooks up with an "actress" (Lucy Punch) half his age. Her mother Helena (Gemma Jones) is seeking guidance for love and happiness from a psychic who always has the prediction she wants to hear.
Each element of this story has been told before in previous Allen efforts. You can take a subplot here and there from his 1980's work, recast it in England, and voila, he thinks he has a new movie. He relies on a dull narrator to give us background and plot shifts. When I got to the end, I felt like the moral of the story was one I knew at the beginning. We know most of these people are going to end unhappy because they start unhappy. They're craving new love, new validation, but when the reality of other people sinks in, they remain unfulfilled.
The standout here is Jones. Her dithering old-mother character could be one-note but Helena winds up being one of the only sympathetic people moving about Allen's chessboard. Now everyone involved can say they've done a Woody Allen movie. That seems to be the only real point of its existence.