Steven Greydanus on "Match Point"

For what it’s worth, while I’d probably rate the film as a C because it is very well crafted, I agree with Steven’s observations about the film. Match Point is a work of wicked, twisted genius, one that comes to dangerous and frightening conclusions about reality and morality. This is a great review.

The first shot in Woody Allen’s Match Point is meant to serve as a metaphorical master-image for the film as a whole: a freeze-frame shot of a tennis ball suspended in space over the net after striking it, poised between falling on one side of the net or the other. It’s an image of blind chance: Which side the ball lands on has nothing to do with which player is more skilled, let alone more deserving. The universe is indifferent to the outcome and its consequences.

Match Point has been hailed as a return to form for Allen, in particular harkening to the director’s landmark 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors, which treats similar themes of infidelity, murder and ultimate meaning.

In fact, Match Point can be read as a kind of loose remake of Crimes and Misdemeanors, or rather a distillation of its dark moral drama, purged of the earlier film’s comedic plot threads involving Alan Alda’s and Allen’s characters. In the past Allen has expressed his dissatisfaction with the comedic portions of Crimes and Misdemeanors, feeling that these detract from the film’s more serious heart. Match Point is perhaps meant to be Crimes and Misdemeanors as it should have been.

Except it isn’t. In fact, Match Point lacks precisely what is, at least arguably, the most haunting element in the earlier film: its sense of genuinely conflicted existential drama.

Crimes and Misdemeanors is an obsessive meditation on the razor’s edge between guilt and unbelief, a film torn between radically different existential alternatives. Like the tennis ball in the opening shot of Match Point, the moral drama in Crimes and Misdemeanors is suspended between two outcomes, and absolutely everything hangs in the balance.

He’s just getting started…

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • CTDelude

    Another film I bought and yet to get to. Have heard wonderful things about the film and of course it stars Asano who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.

    Thanks for the reminder and the short review.