The man who said “I’d rather be lucky than good” saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It’s scary to think so much is out of one’s control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn’t, and you lose.
– Opening scene of the Hollywood movie Match Point (2005).
If you go by the rumors, Hrithik Roshan’s soon-to-be-released film Kites is no more than the Bollywood reprise of Hollywood director Woody Allen’s Match Point.
Given the sordid reality that a lot of Indian movie-makers are no more than thieving bastards, we drove down to our nearby Blockbuster store and rented Match Point the other day to see if there’s any truth to the gossip.
Match Point – Intoxicating Fare
Having watched Match Point, all we can say is Wow!
What a gorgeous movie.
Of course, until we see Kites we won’t know whether it’s merely a bastardized version of Match Point. Even if it is, can it remotely match Match Point?
Written and directed by Woody Allen and featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode in key roles, Match Point swept us off.
The movie is an intoxicating thriller with its lethal combination of lust, adultery and murder.
Add to that potent combination the tension in viewers’ minds of will the perpetrator of the two murders be caught or will he get away and you have a highly engaging film.
Now for the Story
Since most of you schmucks are unlikely to watch Match Point, we’re going to spill the beans this time, spoilers and all in the following paragraphs.
So if you plan on watching Match Point, stop right here. Pray, do not cross this threshold beyond which all will be revealed. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Now, if you dolts are wondering why we’re uncharacteristically disclosing the story in so elaborate a fashion, there’s a reason fellas.
Since Indian film-makers routinely deny they steal stuff, we’d like you to watch Kites and let us know if you think it’s a copy of Match Point.
Young Irish lad Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has pulled himself up from lowly circumstances by the bootstraps through tennis. But having reached a fairly high level on the pro circuit, he gets weary of the endless travel and the grueling rigor of the matches.
And with the certainty that he’s no Agassi, Chris drops off the tennis circuit to become a coach at an exclusive club in London where he meets an uppah class fella Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) with tons of old, family money.
Chris and Tom quickly hit it off and soon Chris is a guest at Tom’s house or the family’s sprawling country estate. Soon, all of Tom’s family including the parents and charming sister Chloe take to Chris.
Making no effort to hide her growing attraction toward him, Chloe takes Chris under her wing, showing him around the city and escorting him to the various arts events, particularly the opera.
By the way, the opera music provides the soundtrack to the movie.
Even as Chris is enjoying the attention of Chloe, the devil in him lusts after Tom’s fiancee Nola, a sultry aspiring actress from Colorado, with a fierce passion that makes a slave of him.
Yes, true to their early description in the movie Nola is extremely aggressive and Chris naturally competitive.
No sooner does Chris join Chloe’s dad’s firm than he becomes the old man’s son-in-law with endless good prospects before him.
Tom and Nola part (likely because his mother has never made a secret of her dislike for the American wannabe actress) and before long Tom is married to another woman.
Never one to cease his mischief, Satan gets Chris’ cojones and schlong all twitter when he espies Nola one day and it’s not long before he’s tearing away her clothes.
Ironically, while Chris’ wife Chloe fails to get pregnant despite all the visits to the fertility clinics, Nola is soon pregnant and wants a reluctant Chris to divorce his wife and be with her.
Contented with the good life and now accustomed to the trappings of a luxurious life, Chris is not keen to rock the marital boat.
Ultimately, when Nola’s pressure becomes insistent and she threatens to tell his wife, Chris plots her murder, secretively grabbing his father-in-law’s gun. He also shoots a neighbor and makes the crime look a drug robbery.
What next, is, of course, the big question that bothers not merely Chris but us as well?
So, what’s gonna happen to Chris?
Of course, the police are quickly on to Chris’ scent.
Nola’s private diary is discovered, Chris questioned, his lies exposed and the man suspected.
We wait with bated breath for the handcuffs to be slipped on Chris’ wrists and to see him being led away in the back of a police car.
Tis not a question of if but when Chris will be arrested, right?
After all, the police inspector is convinced Chris is the murderer, having accurately uncovered the modus operandi in his dream.
Here’s where a brilliant stroke of luck comes upon Chris.
Following the two murders, he had flung a whole bunch of stolen jewels into the river but one ring hits the fence and falls on the sidewalk (in a link to the opening scene), is picked up by a junkie with a long criminal record. Luckily for Chris, the junkie is killed in a 4AM shootout with the ring in his pocket.
Poof! There goes the inspector’s case.
Voila, the good life continues for Chris, Chloe finally gets pregnant and he moves up the ladder in his father-in-law’s business.
The movie ends with Chris’ brother Tom exclaiming of his new-born nephew:
I don’t care if he’s great. I just hope that he’s lucky.
Top Class Stuff
The acting in Match Point is top-notch, Woody Allen’s writing splendid and the photography very compelling.
Folks, Match Point is a jewel of a movie. One that holds you tight in its perfumed bosom.
While Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer and Matthew Goode play their parts to perfection, we were taken in more by Emily Mortimer, who seemed a cut above the rest.
Sure, Scarlett Johansson is seductively endearing and tailor-made for the role of the sexy siren.
The writing is first rate with a humorous vein flowing through the whole film.
Here’s a snippet:
Chris (after a bout of fierce love-making with Nola): What time is it?
Nola: Time for you to go.
At some key points in the movie, Woody Allen cleverly leads us astray to keep us on tenterhooks as to the finale.
Woody Allen, a director with a prodigious output, has on occasion reminisced that Match Point is perhaps his finest movie.
Although we can’t remember seeing any of his other films, it’s hard, very hard to believe that any of them can out-match Match Point.
Rare is the movie like Match Point that has held us in its thrall from the opening moment till the end.
We can’t recommend Match Point strongly enough.
The movie oozes class.
If you live in the U.S., you can rent Match Point from Blockbuster or Netflix.
For the rest of you desis, your nimble fingers should do the trick. 😉