You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Reviews
I don't get it either. If Woody is tired of and bored with making films, then he should just stop instead of continuing to make stuff like this. I don't know if it's possible (I hope it is) but Woody just needs to catch that spark that helped bring about his best work, and use it to create mayvbe just one more masterpiece. I'll keep seeing his new stuff (and more of his old), but I'll find it hard to continue caring if it all keeps turning out to be irrelevant, meandering crap like this.
Woody Allen's latest, "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," starts off swimmingly, following an artsy upper-crust British family that twists and turns its relationships with the ease of a French silk scarf. Crowded with almost as many stars as "Valentine's Day," the film is better introduced by the actors' names rather than by the confusion of their characters' - Watts, Josh Brolin ("Milk") as her failed-author husband, Antonio Banderas ("Shrek") as her sexy art gallery boss, Gemma Jones ("Bridget Jones's Diary") and Anthony Hopkins ("Beowulf") as her recently-divorced parents trying to stave off their inevitable decay into old age, Lucy Punch ("Hot Fuzz") as Hopkins's new wife and Frieda Pinto ("Slumdog Millionaire") as the alluring young neighbor.
To any newcomer, the mélange of star power might seem a bit overwhelming, but Woody has always been good with ensemble casts, and "Stranger" is no exception. And truly, at least for the first few moments, the director seems back in his prime, comfortably zinging through his well-worn topics of discontent, neuroses and nebbish insecurity with relative success. Feelings of cosmic insignificance in the universe? Check. The rise and fall of marriage? The tragedy of the conflicted writer? The supernatural as farce? Check, check, check. Granted, the chemistry between the lovers is kind of lacking, and the fights are not very tense, but you know, all that is forgivable - it's a light enough movie to get by.
Then it ends. Seriously, it just ends. And what's more, this is the gem "Stranger" chooses to close off with: "Sometimes, the illusion is better than the medicine." What is that even supposed to mean? Never in the history of moviemaking has an ending been so sublimely ill-placed. Was Woody simply too lazy to come up with a proper third act for his latest film? Or, gasp, was he simply not capable of thinking of one?
Had it come from any other modern director, the film's sparkling high points would certainly have overridden any negativity derived from the ending. Yet from Woody, it's a certifiable flop. Sure, we get a few laughs, a few fresh faces (Punch is particularly promising as the prostitute-come-diamond-swathed-trophy-wife of Hopkins, recalling the fervor and grace of a young, dizzy Mira Sorvino), some faithful droplets of neuroticism twisted into the central plot - all that stuff we've come to expect from every Woody Allen film since 1977.
Yet the thing that's lacking from "Stranger" - that's been lacking from every film since "Sweet and Lowdown" - is the brief leak of emotions, the chill of realization that has become the heart and soul of all Woody classics: Allen's pregnant pause in "Annie Hall" before he mourns "Annie and I broke up;" the "What makes life worth living?" speech in "Manhattan;" Dianne Wiest's soft and tender "I'm pregnant" in "Hannah and Her Sisters." But what exactly have the aughts yielded for us? Threesomes and murder? Even the decade's best, the nubile "Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," are missing that brief descent from sexy fantasy-romp into reality.
In fact, "Stranger"'s absent ending isn't so much an anomaly as it has become a growing constant of its own, as distasteful to the audience as the grating voiceover narrations. These shifting constants mark the tragic realization that we all don't want to admit: that the world is no longer relevant to Woody. And what's worse, that Woody is no longer relevant to us.
Not that this news will make the flock of Woody aficionados (and particularly, um, this reviewer) attend any fewer of his films, as the numbers in the box office can attest to. Our commitment practically mirrors the constants of a Woody Allen movie: When the film ended, there were claps in the audience, because there are always claps. When the lights went up, people stayed on afterwards to watch the credits, because they always do.
With each new movie around the corner, all we really want to see is "the next great Woody Allen movie," and we are willing to wait for it until the day we die. Maybe that masterpiece will come, and maybe it won't, but in the meantime, all we can do hold onto the constants - these glimmers of past greatness. Because for us, the illusion is better than the medicine, any day.
Director: Woody Allen
Summary: After her husband's (Anthony Hopkins) midlife crisis drives him into the arms of a younger woman (Lucy Punch), Helena (Gemma Jones) consults a psychic (Pauline Collins) to learn what fate has in store for her and is told that she'll soon meet a tall, dark stranger who will become the love of her life. Meanwhile, the pair's daughter (Naomi Watts) and her husband (Josh Brolin) grapple with their own extramarital attractions.
My Thoughts: "What a waste of a great cast. I say waste, because the story is bland and quite boring. The performances were very good and all, but the film failed to make me care about anything that was going on, or about any of it's character's. A shame really, considering the cast."
I've said this often, but I think it's time to write it: one day, probably in my lifetime, Woody Allen will be dead. And even films like this, which was critically panned, are going to serve as reminders of this film auteur. I, for one, am going to miss characters who read and know about art, literature, and opera. I'm going to miss stories that are goofy but seem to point out the ridiculousness of life. I'm going to miss Woody Allen. A lot.
As far as Woody Allen films go, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger isn't out of the ordinary. The story is the usual mixture of completely unpredictable good and bad events, that seem to happen to his characters regardless of whether they deserve them or not. Much like life.
Unintended consequences, fate, and the meaninglessness of it all is once again the underlying message, all presented through the lives of the wealthy and discontent. There's less humor than some of his movies, a little more than others, and I think that most fans of Allen's work will find it agreeable, if much less neurotic than something like Annie Hall.
What does set this apart from some of the director's other work is the cast. Sure, Allen has a history of working with some
excellent actors. This is the best cast he's had, in my opinion, primarily because I'm such a fan of Naomi Watts. To see her joined by Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Frieda Pinto, Lucy Punch, Antonio Banderas, Gemma Jones, and others...well, that's quite an ensemble.
Overall, I was satisfied with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Allen doesn't stretch himself much with this one, but the cast makes it memorable.
Follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Hopkins) and Helena (Jones), and their daughter Sally (Watts) and husband Roy (Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds. After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller. Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window.
Follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Hopkins) and Helena (Jones), and their daughter Sally (Watts) and husband Roy (Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds.
The premise of the entire film is to look at how people will react to information given by a so-called fortune teller. In the hands of Woody Allen, anything is possible, and the results are likely to be ironic, to say the least. When a distraught divorcée finds her way to some people refer as a quack, she discovers a source of comfort and soon, she considers her advice to infallible and a source of inspiration for herself and others.
Gemma Jones gives a solid performance as an insecure woman, now rejected by a husband, with his own age issues, and dealing with a daughter and not so good husband, in a remarkable turn by Josh Brolin. As matters unfold, the situations go from funny to pathetic, as the main protagonists sink deeper and deeper into their own personal catastrophes. Ironically, some of these choices might be influenced by Jones' constant references to her psychic advisor's recommendations.
The film is not one of Allen's best, but it's amusing, and there are hints of the lively dialogue that has become its signature. There are not so subtle references to previous characters and common themes in Allen's repertoire. We have the older man and the younger working girl, the possibility of extramarital affairs, and in a rather strange turn, a rich, sensitive, and quite honest businessman.
The film somehow will reward you and entertain you, but not quite the golden entry one expects from Allen.