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…