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Follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Hopkins) and Helena (Jones), and their daughter Sally (Watts) and husband Roy (Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds. After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window. Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Allen's latest, the aptly titled You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a tragicomic tale of dysfunctional families, spiced with a little woo-woo. Needless to say, a familiar concept to Allen. This time it's two generations of middle class Londoners trying to get by and search for happiness, mainly on the romantic front, and the woo-woo that connects the stories together comes in the form of a fortune teller.
Look at the accomplished cast. If you like their previous work, you will not be disappointed with what they bring to their roles. Keep in mind the characters are pretty much all written as selfish types, and not too bright. The misadventures they get into are all self inflicted
the fortune teller's stars neither help nor peril, unless they let
Nonetheless you will get embarrassed for the characters and the situations they get themselves into, and just when the state of affairs reach their pinnacle, Allen shifts gear and detaches the viewer. This is an intentional habit of his (his films are unashamed entertainment), perhaps alienating some fans of heavier drama but it works for me. The storyline of Roy (Josh Brolin) and his literary activities is a fine example. The affair between Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Charmaine (Lucy Punch) another. In Allen's films things always gravitate towards absurd, yet without losing touch of cinematic reality. I thought Greg (Antonio Banderas) delivered the best line: "You see... how beautiful and ironic life is".
Though there is no actual main character of whose view point the viewer is invited to take, two women, mother Helena (Gemma Jones) and daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) are at the center of it all. The mother keeps seeing the fortune teller (Pauline Collins) and insists spreading her "advice" to less enthusiastic daughter who doesn't object as long as the news are good. Allen has a knack for showing things from women's point of view, and Naomi Watts' role would have fit Mia Farrow - Diane Keaton not so much - in the past.
Another Allen trait is his (over)use of narration, present here as well. It fits the style but seems to somehow take away re-watch value, and affords the film maker to get lazy with proper pacing. The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985) didn't need it, did it? But then again it didn't have gags involving viagra or stds either, so perhaps this isn't the best comparison (take it as a parental advisory instead).
I usually admire the cinematography in Woody Allen films. For his best of recent years, take a look at Scoop (2006) and see how marvellous it looks. But not anymore. Mr. Allen, you definitely should not switch to a hand-held camera when the drama gets physical. Therefore I give this film only a 7/10.
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