Match Point Review, WITH TOTAL SPOILERS, so if you haven't seen it, don't read this.
Match Point was by far my favorite mainstream movie this year. my favorite underground movie was done by a sub-ethnic group so obscure, using non-narrative techniques so different from western studio ethics, that i can't even tell you about it. fine, one word. turkmenistan.
but back to match point. what makes this movie so different from today's standard thriller (for the sake of argument, let's call that "Derailed", so very down the middle)?
well, remember Jim Thompson: "there is only one plot: things are not as they seem."
now more than ever. every scene in every thriller must be fraught with potential peril. the audience must be kept waiting to know just what is coming next. they can't be in on the secrets of each character--BOW DOWN TO THE MIGHTY REVEAL PEONS!!!!
that's the way it is. and don't even get me started on M. Night's third revealatorium--it is but to puke. but that's a post for another day. back to match point.
the genius of this movie is that in every scene, where you are programmed to wait for the other shoe to drop...it never does. if a character says he or she is doing something, that's what they are doing. when someone appears out of the blue--the tennis player who shows up in the second act, say--they are there to illuminate some aspect of our main characters, not to reveal the real reason behind their dastardly plan. and yet, rather than become dull or episodic, this has the effect of making the movie feel like a real story, with the flow that comes from a good novel with an omniscient (and not faulty) narrator.
because this is a great little story, a taut and intense plot, well shot and well acted. in fact, until the third to last scene, it is a movie that could have directed by...well, um, who does good thrillers these days? anyone? hitchcock. it feels like a solid hitchcock movie. in that antepenultimate (look it up) scene, where jonathan rhys-meyers tells a ghost that if existence has specific meaning, then he will be caught--well, it is woody allen, so you are right to guess he won't get caught. but that doesn't detract from the last scene at all--it's just a sop for the insider types. like me.
jon and scarlett both give superb and naturalistic performances as well. you believe them both--they never oversell their characters, they just inhabit them (with one proviso--that doesn't look like much of a groundstroke on J R-M, but hey, he's better than DiCaprio's basketball skills in "The Basketball Diaries").
it's a beautiful piece of work--i'm excited to watch it again on ppv.