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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Flawed but engaging film that moves from lightly comic to embittered tragedy in a satisfyingly manner

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
2 June 2011

The story of two married couples, a couple with more than 40 years together (Alfie and Helena) and their daughter, Sally and her husband Roy. When confronted by his own mortality, Alfie chases his youth with health foods and the gym, even going as far to leave Helena when she tries to make him act her age. He runs into the arms of a much younger "actress" while Helena seeks refuge in a supposed psychic. Meanwhile Sally lands a new job in a gallery and becomes enamoured with her smooth boss, while Roy gets inspired by a beautiful woman in red who has moved into the flat directly across from theirs.

I'm catching up on my Woody Allen recently and it was just the other day I watched the rather poor Whatever Works where Allen delivers (badly) a rather positive message of finding something in life to make you happy as long as you're not hurting anyone else (although he doesn't really make that point beyond saying it out loud). Anyway, in this film the title alludes to the general predictions of wellness and happiness made by the fortune teller in the film – hopes and dreams that specifically guide Helena but at the same time all the characters here are chasing happiness and love in places other than where they are. The first half of the film could have been funnier (or at least funny) but it is rather comic at the start. I would have preferred a few more relaxed laughs but the comic tone is rather charming and I did settle in for a (very) light romantic comedy.

Instead what Allen delivers is a rather bitter look at the pointless nature of chasing happiness in illusions and aspirations – whether it be the arms of a physically beautiful woman or psychic babble. The film drifts from the comic into the farcical tragedy it becomes with ease as our various characters find themselves mostly cut off or denied the dream that looked so good from a distance. He doesn't quite manage to conclude the film in a satisfying manner but, while his narrator may conclude that the illusion is better than the medicine in one case, for the majority of characters their attempts to catch the illusion has not helped them escape their pain – just transplanted it to another painful situation. It is a very bitter message but one that is convincingly done in most of the plots because they all have an element of truth in them.

The delivery of this message could have been better done and the light touch from Allen does limit it but I did really enjoy it. OK the comic aspects could have been more comic but he got the "pain" side right and didn't push it too far or risk melodrama. Perhaps I am a miserable SOB at heart but to me this rather realistic look at the world of love and romance is refreshingly bitter and convincing. The cast are perhaps too deep in names/faces as everyone and their dog lines up to be able to say "I worked with Woody Allen". Hopkins is rather obvious but his restraint works across both aspects of the film. Jones I'm not so sure on but then I didn't like her character that much either. Watts and Brolin work well together in their relationship. Pinto is a stunningly light woman and her easy delivery is perfect for the "beautiful object of desire" role. Likewise, although a little obvious, Punch is good as the ditzy gold-digger. In support we have Collins, Banderas, Bremner, Glenister, Friel, Syal and others all doing solid work but mostly just able to list a Woody Allen film on their CV.

Overall, "You Will Meet etc" is not a great Woody Allen as it is not particularly smart, funny or dramatic. However it is a refreshingly bitter and realistic comic romance which rings true as it moves nicely from comic to tragedy and I enjoyed it even if it is not a great film. Having said that, put next to Whatever Works this is a great film – but then I guess everything can be made to look however you want with the right context!

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

builds up nicely to nothing really

4/10
Author: stuffkikker from Holland
24 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Can't say I've ever been a real fan of Allen, so it would be improper to say I was disappointed. Well, I recall liking Cassandra's Dream, and Vicky Barcelona was entertaining, but I don't remember their endings, and this movie kinda gives me an idea why.

Feels as though Allen is more concerned with sending us the message that we should appreciate the lives we're leading and not waste ourselves on greater dreams or ambitions or we will end up like the people displayed in this movie, than he is with entertaining us.

And this approach leads to a rather superficial movie with rather superficial people who we aren't supposed to really like that much (doesn't seem Allen likes them very much). And although there is this sense of build-up that in the end perhaps they will find their balance after all, and somehow the mess they bring about turns into some sort of harmony, but that never happens. The mess just gets worse and that's it. By the time you're watching the subtitles, you feel like all those folks you've been watching just got punished for wanting more out of life. And thats it. For me, not what I watch movies for. I like to be touched, moved, brought to some insight, see the world different perhaps. And preferably in a positive way. But all this movie left me with was a sense of 'ugh, what stupid people'. Sorry Allen, but put a little love in it next time.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

not so special Woody Allen

6/10
Author: SnoopyStyle
9 September 2015

In London, Helena (Gemma Jones) goes to see fortune teller Cristal (Pauline Collins) after she is abandoned by her husband Alfie (Anthony Hopkins). He shocks everyone by announcing his engagement to the much younger Charmaine (Lucy Punch) after hiring her as a prostitute. The couple's daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) sacrificed her ambitions to support her husband Roy (Josh Brolin) who stopped publishing after a successful first book. He's interested in next door neighbor Dia (Freida Pinto) and finishes his second book. Sally falls for her art gallery boss Greg (Antonio Banderas).

This is a cast of mostly great actors playing run-of-the-mill Woody Allen characters. The only bad performance comes from the wooden Freida Pinto. The story isn't anything special. It's reminiscent of other Woody Allen movies without exceeding them.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

One of Woody Allen's worst movies

4/10
Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
17 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of Woody Allen's worst movies. Not THE worst, that honour goes to To Rome With Love, but this comes close.

At least the stories are coherent, but they're not at all good. There is hardly a likable character in the entire movie. Everyone, in their own way, is plain loathsome. Infidelity (especially), deceit, naivety and insanity abound. Naomi Watts' character might be the only character worth supporting, and even she's not perfect.

Many of the relationships don't even make sense, they're just there for relationship sake, or infidelity sake.

About the only great moment was Josh Brolin's character's comeuppance.

Performances are fine, it is the characters that are irritating, and very much so.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Won't meet him watching the movie

5/10
Author: kosmasp
7 September 2011

While there is a subtle comic tone all over the movie, the movie itself is not really a comedy. It's more drama than anything else. But it still manages to stay light. Which of course has to do with the fact, that you detached from the characters. And you'll either find that amazing or not so much entertaining.

You may call it pointless or a masterclass in observation, one thing is for sure: Despite the fact that it isn't emotional, it won't leave you emotionless. You'll either love it or hate it. The actors are doing their best portraying their many flaws (they are human after all), without going too much over the top.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

funny and clever

9/10
Author: almamoyamoon from United States
15 April 2011

That last reviewer obviously has no sense of humor. Most of Woody Allen's newer films I don't care for, except the one with Penelope Cruz, in any case, this film "You will meet a tall dark stranger" is funny and clever and romantic. Anthony Hopkins whom after the "Hannibal" franchise seemed to become a caricature of himself, but in this film he is absolutely authentic, funny, and he did a wonderful job capturing the nuances of his character. Of course, Naomi Watts is always never seems to fail any of the characters that she plays. She's funny without overacting or "hamming" it up. Josh Brolin was fair to midland and the Indian actress for Slumdog Millionaire did nothing extraordinary. Overall the film really addresses the aging process and how we always seem to want more in life, regardless of what we have. I very universal element in life. Rent this and you'll laugh!

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Late-Period Allen Fails to Deliver Laughs or Tragedy, Just an Inevitable Sense of Hopelessness

6/10
Author: Ed Uyeshima from San Francisco, CA, USA
8 February 2011

In the most familiar ways, this cynical 2010 chamber piece feels like a typical late-period Woody Allen roundelay of marital disappointments, romantic longing, and all points in between. But instead of the vibrancy he showed in "Match Point" and "Vicki Cristina Barcelona", Allen retreats back to the more lackluster plot machinations of "Cassandra's Dream" and "Melinda and Melinda". The result is a cinematic disappointment that makes me wonder how interested Allen is in entertaining an audience versus filming existential morality plays. The great Vilmos Zsigmond ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind") is credited as the cinematographer, but his camera-work is quite dull here and the London locales are not used to any great effect.

The labyrinth plot focuses on Roy, a one-time doctor who hit it big with his first novel years ago only to suffer from a severe case of writer's block afterward. He is henpecked by his sexually frustrated wife Sally who in turn, becomes smitten with handsome art gallery owner Greg. Sally and Roy receive unexpected drop-ins from her mother Helena who dispenses unsolicited advice she gets from dotty psychic Cristal. Helena has been seeing Cristal in order to figure out what to do with her life now that her husband Alfie has left her in the midst of a desperate bout of male menopause. Alfie has impetuously rediscovered his youth with a blowsy prostitute named Charmaine, who becomes his materialistic trophy wife. Meanwhile, Roy has become infatuated with a pretty musicologist named Dia whom he stares at through his and Sally's apartment window. Against her better judgment, Dia is attracted to Roy, and this triggers an act of deception that leads to undesirable consequences for all concerned. As has been his habit, Allen has recruited a cast of well-known actors to play the characters, but the resulting performances are uneven and sometimes unfocused.

Stuck with a bad perm, Josh Brolin has to play the self-absorbed Roy with conviction, but he fails to draw us into his character's artistic angst or moral dilemma. Naomi Watts fares marginally better, capturing Sally's frustration and longing with surprising élan, even as her character shows her true colors at the end. As Alfie, Anthony Hopkins looks bored and acts rather embarrassed by his character's increasing desperation. Lucy Punch probably fares the worst as Charmaine since she has to play the dumb-blonde stereotype with no room for adding dimension. On the upside, Antonio Banderas is effortlessly charming in his small role as Greg, while it's good to see that the comely Freida Pinto has a career that goes beyond being someone else's object of desire in "Slumdog Millionaire" as Dia. Gemma Jones and Pauline Collins are the film's chief delights as Helena and Cristal, especially in their scenes together. As is usual with an Allen release, the theatrical trailer is the only extra on the 2011 DVD/Blu-Ray.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Good dark comedy

8/10
Author: luna magoo from Turkey
17 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watching it recently with no expectations on a lousy day but with yet having lots of trust in Allen's sense of humor and skills in writing this one cracked me up with its London inhabited characters having hard times with their lives and marriages. The movie is a dark comedy about marriage, wife and husband situations, affairs, potential affairs, friends, family, career, aging, fortune telling and love. It is a hilarious movie in Allen's way that kept me smiling throughout the whole movie. My vote for this movie will definitely be a one supporting the thinking that "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is truly a satisfying Woody Allen movie. If you do feel in the mood for a dark comedy sometime this one is highly recommended.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

And They Said Fortune Telling Doesn't Work?

7/10
Author: aharmas from United States
25 November 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The premise of the entire film is to look at how people will react to information given by a so-called fortune teller. In the hands of Woody Allen, anything is possible, and the results are likely to be ironic, to say the least. When a distraught divorcée finds her way to some people refer as a quack, she discovers a source of comfort and soon, she considers her advice to infallible and a source of inspiration for herself and others.

Gemma Jones gives a solid performance as an insecure woman, now rejected by a husband, with his own age issues, and dealing with a daughter and not so good husband, in a remarkable turn by Josh Brolin. As matters unfold, the situations go from funny to pathetic, as the main protagonists sink deeper and deeper into their own personal catastrophes. Ironically, some of these choices might be influenced by Jones' constant references to her psychic advisor's recommendations.

The film is not one of Allen's best, but it's amusing, and there are hints of the lively dialogue that has become its signature. There are not so subtle references to previous characters and common themes in Allen's repertoire. We have the older man and the younger working girl, the possibility of extramarital affairs, and in a rather strange turn, a rich, sensitive, and quite honest businessman.

The film somehow will reward you and entertain you, but not quite the golden entry one expects from Allen.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Old Woody nope...old Woody yep.

Author: Quietb-1 from United States
20 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Written and directed by Woody Allen. This multiple relationship story includes the older man with the younger women. Where does he get his inspiration? Woody Allen has been Woody Allen so long it is hard to sustain. Like many great artists their later work isn't quite as sharp as the work in their prime. His recent films seem like something to do while on vacation in Italy, Spain or in this case England.

There are moments and the best moments are implied in the future, long after the final credits. Because you want it to go on a little longer, and doesn't, it leaves you a bit unsatisfied.

A great cast, fun situations, bright look, perky score, all make for an entertaining movie experience. However, the movie is like a good entrée, but offers no dessert.

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