Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom/Luxembourg, 2005. BBC Films, Thema Production, Jada Productions, Kudu Films. Screenplay by Woody Allen. Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin. Produced by Letty Aronson, Lucy Darwin, Gareth Wiley. Production Design by Jim Clay. Costume Design by Jill Taylor. Film Editing by Alisa Lepselter. Academy Awards 2005. Golden Globe Awards 2005. National Board of Review Awards 2005. Online Film Critics Awards 2005.
After a number of unimpressive comedies, Woody Allen redeems himself with this fantastic drama set in London and featuring an impeccable cast of mostly British actors (and one superb American one). Working for the first time completely outside his native Manhattan, Allen has fashioned a mesmerizing tale of passion and desperation as successful tennis-pro and instructor Jonathan Rhys Meyers becomes friends with an upper class student (Matthew Goode) and starts dating his sister (Emily Mortimer). Upon meeting Goode’s fiancee (Scarlett Johansson), Rhys Meyers becomes obsessively fixated on her and they begin an affair. His life with his girlfriend, however, is much more satisfying financially, propelling him into a double life of social-climbing with Mortimer’s connections and satisfying lust with Johansson. Unfortunately, people who think they can have it all usually can’t, and it is not long before consequences come knocking on our dubious hero’s door. Johansson is the picture of femme fatale glory which soon gives into the reality of existential misery as her character gives more and more of herself and receives less and less in return, while Mortimer has such an incredible lack of chemistry with Rhys Meyers that their relationship’s shallow justification is only made more believable. The luminous photography, the exceptional dialogue and the jaw-dropping resolution all make for the best film that Allen has made since Crimes And Misdemeanors.