I saw MatchPoint yesterday, the latest movie written and directed by Woody Allen.
As I was warned, it is not a characteristic Woody Allen movie. It is a very absorbing black comedy – very disturbing and very real.
Like all great movies, it had a personal message – as a character in the film puts it, “Hard Work is mandatory, but it is luck that makes the difference.”
Like all great movies, it builds the story around characters. It runs on a central powerful theme, and connects an array of characters around that – all stories lead to that the same key story.
What did I think of in the end? A good Cartier-Bresson photograph, where many elements connect to a central message, and communicates very personally to the viewer.
The story revolves around Chris, a tennis player who gave up after the ball hitting the net and dropping the wrong way. He comes to London, and starts as a tennis instructor, before he meets Tom, a wealthy man of an aristocratic family. They become friends, he visits the family – where he gets respect and love for his hard work, strong self respect and ambition. Tom’s sister falls in love with him – and Tom’s father starts helping him out on her request. He moves into an office in the city, in a trading career, chauffer-driven cars and business courses sponsored by the office.
But he also meets Nola, Tom’s fiancée, a struggling actress from Boulder, Colorado – the sultry Scarlett Johansson. The attraction was immediate. They are very similar – Nola failing in auditions at crucial times but living up all her confidence and self over a drink. They get involved, at a particular moment of dejection when Tom’s mother, who does not like her at all, insulted Nola, as a matter of routine.
Then, Chris gets married to Tom’s sister, but Tom drops Nola, and settles for a girl who is liked by his mother. Nola disappears.
But then Chris runs into her again, in Tate modern, and starts a very passionate affair. Chris’ wife, all sweetness and very homely, does everything to get pregnant, but alas! It is Nola who gets pregnant. And she wants to keep this baby, and wants Chris to leave his wife.
Chris struggles. It is everything he stands for by then. Tries to tell his wife, but can not. He gets torn, and keeps buying time. Nola starts getting anxious, and starts demanding that Chris settles this. Chris starts lying, gets caught, Nola creates a ruckus, but somehow, with promises that he will tell it soon, Chris manages the situation. But, he is on edge by then – and he murders Nola, the unborn baby and also an innocent neighbor.
It was a shabby murder, full of clues, his name all over Nola’s diary. Detectives found it. As Chris’ wife finally announces that she is pregnant, the call from Police comes.
Knowing his life is on the edge, Chris destroys evidence, but again shabbily, and this time, a ring from Nola’s neighbor’s house does not get destroyed, dropping on the wrong side of the fence on Thames.
Even after Chris’ testimony, one of the detectives could make out how he has done the murder. He decides to dig deeper.
But, as he would proceed, one of the drug dealers in the area is found murdered, a ring from the dead neighbor’s house in his pocket.
Chris becomes a successful man, husband and parent. Life goes on.
I left the hall full of foreboding, a very personal message and a satisfaction that comes after a strong aesthetic experience.