You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 15, 2011
There is no reason for this film to exist, and Allen could have come up with something much more interesting to say than that illusion is always better than reality. A soulless tale of sound and fury that signifies nothing and never knows if it is a comedy, a romance or a drama.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2013
Middling Woody, a cast of talented actors portray a bunch of not terribly interesting or for that matter likable people.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2012
I'm not sure why this film doesn't get better ratings, but my hunch is that it's because, compared to other Woody Allen everyone's-lusting-after-everyone-else ensemble films, this one's rather humourless. I thought that Brolin and Watts played a good exasperated couple, and that Lucy Punch was incredible as the mother-in-law that pushes every button Brolin's character has. Plus, as usual for Allen, there's a fascination with death on display, and the psychics and seances lighten the rest of the story's mood, which is a sombre one given that it's basically about writer's block and the dissolution of what should be a promising marriage. I really got into the characters, though - despite how despicable the writer Brolin played was - and I thought the story was captivating, if a little twee as it approached the end. A good film, or maybe, as a writer myself, one I'd have liked no matter what. In any case, I guarantee that it's not as bad as you've heard.
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2011
Woody Allen movies are very hit and miss with me. I haven't really seen much of his older stuff, but I've seen a lot of his new stuff. "Match Point" and "Vicky Christina Barcelona" are both fantastic movies. But neither "Anything Else" or "Whatever Works" did anything for me. So I watched this hoping it would be good as it has a great cast. Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, among others sound like a true all star roster of talent. But, this movie is downright horrible. I lost interest after about 15 minutes, and didn't make it through to the end. The story is weak, it has a needless narrator, and the acting is horrible. My biggest complaint is that the actors appear to be reading their dialogue instead of acting it out. It's almost like it is a bad play. I'll probably continue to watch future Woody Allen movies, but if they continue to be this bad, I'll give up on him completely. Just skip this crap and rent "Match Point" instead.
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2010
Even with uninspired, half-assed, shrugged off work like this, there's still some redeeming elements. It's not terrible, but it is rahter blah. I did like the music though, and some individual moments are fun, and I do like the cast, but nothing really stands out as wonderful here.

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.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2011
Nothing draws in a horde of old people like a new Woody Allen movie. The audience is largely composed of the same people every time, people who have learned to recognize the faithful constants - the jazzy score underlying the black screened credits (this time, Leon Redbone's "When You Wish Upon a Star"); the curly text headlining forever producer Letty Aronson ("his sister," the woman sitting in the third row whispers to her husband); the beachy, peachy hues recalling a time and place that never existed, and - in recent years, the annoying voiceover narration opening the first scene that introduces the young protagonista, Sally (Naomi Watts, "King Kong").

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.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2010
No, it's not brilliant, but by and large it works as a film. It has to be one of Woody Allen's more generic films, though. I mean, where's the flair. It's clever and dry, but the actual idea and plot does not have any punch. The premise itself is just far more conventional that I woul dever have expected to see. The film is made up of varied connected storylines, which is something i like. The best thing here, however, is that it is actually possible to keep track of who belongs where and what's happened. Generally speaking, I tend to forget those things - like The Informants, who can follow that? This is much better, all the characters connect together in ways that are easy to trace and are obvious. I enjoyed seeing Freida Pinto again after Slumdog Millionaire, although she did seem to have more life as Latika than as Dia. Idk, this would have been so much better had it just been a bit more creative and jazzy. As it stands now, it's awfully conventional and as such just isn't all that endearing.
Super Reviewer
½ January 23, 2011
Wry ensemble film begins by paraphrasing Shakespeare with the quote, "Life was full of sound and fury, and in the end signified nothing." With a meek start like that, the director has all but guaranteed a trivial movie to follow. Woody Allen's umpteenth reflection on cheating and relationships follows a pair of married couples. As in most Woody Allen comedies there are multiple characters and storylines. In this case, the script feels unfocused and mundane. An exciting development regarding Josh Brolin's character, a struggling writer, materializes about two-thirds of the way through. Without giving anything away, the situation concerns his new book and an acquaintance who is in a coma. But just when the action starts to get interesting, the film literally stops, robbed of a conclusion. Somewhere there is a wonderful little movie buried in this script. If Allen had focused on taking this idea to a clever conclusion, the story might have been a bit more engaging. Unfortunately as it stands, many plot threads are left dangling. True to it's opening quote, we're left with nothing.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2010
His latest film may not be one of his best, but it's still very Woody Allen. Sort of a lighter follow-up to Vicky Cristina Barcelona, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is Allen's fourth film set in London. With characters that are sad and desperate, some splendid dialog and lines with rapid delivery, but also a few loose ends and underperforming actors who don't usually underperform (see Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins), YWMATDS shouldn't be taken too seriously. Gemma Jones is the best element among the cast; Lucy Punch stands out, too. Anna Friel should be given more work, not only in this but, you know, in general.
Super Reviewer
½ September 16, 2010
Cast: Gemma Jones, Pauline Collins, Anthony Hopkins, Rupert Frazer, Kelly Harrison, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Eleanor Gecks, Antonio Banderas, Ewen Bremner, Anna Friel

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."
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2011
Woody Allen is a committed atheist. We see this in his stand-up, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Deconstructing Harry, and Match Point. What is more, one of the funniest lines in Husbands and Wives is spoken by Jack's ditsy arm ornament, "why wouldn't the position of the planets have an influence on our personalities?" But his latest work, Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, both seem to affirm a fate-based character in ways that problematize Allen's commitment to a chaotic worldview. It started in Match Point, in which the deus ex machina worked because of luck, but in Whatever Works a diviner lets Larry David fall on her because it's implied that she knows the collision will blossom into a successful relationship. Here, Helena visits a diviner, and throughout the film, we're waiting for her trust to be misplaced, but the conclusion avoids predictability, no matter if you're an Allen fan or simply familiar with film cliches. At first look, we might be compelled to think that our diminutive, clever atheist has "seen the light" as he enters the final quarter of a century, but there's a line that runs through the entire film, serving as its backbone and making this one of Allen's most cynical efforts: "Sometimes illusions work better than real medicine." Thus, we're invited to laugh at and ridicule all of these characters, no matter how life turns out for them. In the end, it doesn't matter whether the diviner's predictions come true because everyone in this film is equally foolish in part because of their insistence to predict the unpredictable, and they equally doomed to a life "full of sound and fury but signifying nothing."
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.
Super Reviewer
½ February 17, 2011
From the bed of the psychoanalyst of the fortuneteller glass ball. It is time of budgets for Woody Allen and the New York filmmaker is a bitter budget, just tempered by usual irony, moreover increasingly refined and detached. A comedy mild to tints drop shots on cynicism of our times, where one can only smile of the vicissitudes of the characters who see inevitably fail their projects. Contemporary man remains victim of his presumption and cynical merciless powered by himself. There is no escape for this humanity lost and desolate: wisdom, seems to suggest Woody, is accepting only the seductive power of illusion. And if illusion should be, then better than cheap and free-range of fortuneteller that the most expensive and ostentatious of psychoanalyst.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2010
"Well, as Sally told Roy, sometimes the illusions work better than the medicine."

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.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2010
A well made and acted film, but Woody Allen's latest is completely void of substance, laughs, pay off, and a reason to exist. Allen has made films before VERY light on plot that I have loved for the simple reason they were fresh, funny and entertaining; "Tall Dark Stranger" is none of those unfortunately. A big disappointment.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2010
This was a very good Woody Allen film based upon adult relationships and things that happen nowadays alot in a funny woody allen kinda way. The thing is that there is no tall dark stranger ever in this movie which the title is very metaphoric if you get my drift..

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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 27, 2010
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying."

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.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2010
Another one of Woody's flimsy occult dramedies ala Scoop, Melinda and Melinda, and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Of course, it's intellectual and subtly humorous. The dramatic moments are real and mundane in a way that I appreciate, but I prefer his high-concept Love stories - yes Love with a capital L. The man does know how to light a beautiful woman though. The first close-up shot of Freida Pinto - breathtaking. Anna Friel's monologue revealing her affair with Greg - her eyes slowly glass up, and it's gorgeous.
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2010
What can I say? I love this guy! Very entertaining flick and a slap on the wrist to those who expect things to turn out in any satisfying way....I mean, the superstitious mother is the only one who gets her druthers? The wrong person getting out of a coma? Sounds like my life! Only the people are a teensy bit better looking.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2010
"You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is one of Woody Allen's more profound pictures. Much more a drama than a comedy, but still funny, this film features some exceptional performances, Naomi Watts standing out, some unique and beautiful cinematography and some of the finest dialogue you will hear from a film in 2010. I doubt this film will strike many viewers like it did with me, but anyone up for a drama with some relatable scenarios, psychologically complex characters and astute cultural commentary you will certainly be pleased with this. "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" is a film that, like "Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" before it, works as a Woody Allen picture and a comment on the times we are living in.
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