Brittany Runs a Marathon
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Woody Allen veers into self parody yet again with this smug, star studded exercise in exploring half baked characters who have been done better in other Allen movies. When considering the fact that he also made Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Midnight in Paris (2011) around this time I expected something better from him but unfortunately this is a very average offering from a great mind. What pushed me over the edge into not liking this film was Zak Orth's voiceover as he gets horribly pretentious writing to work with and chooses to deliver it much like Scoot McNairy in Narcos: Mexico, a fact which greatly dismayed me. I expect more of Allen and I found very little to like in this film even if it was easily watchable.
Batty old woman Helena, Gemma Jones, relies on fortune teller Cristal, Pauline Collins, to keep herself happy a fact that greatly annoys her daughter Sally, Naomi Watts, and her struggling writer husband Roy, Josh Brolin. Helena's sadness is caused by her recent divorce from Alfie, Anthony Hopkins, who is going through a mid life crisis and has married gold digger Charmaine, Lucy Punch, who uses him to pay for trashy jewelry. Sally wants to have an affair with Greg, Antonio Banderas, and start a new art gallery with her friend but she needs money from her mother to do this, Cristal has advised her against it. Roy wants to have an affair with his neighbor Dia, Freida Pinto, and plagiarizes a book that his friend Strangler wrote thinking he was dead.
This just doesn't work like other Allen ensemble comedies do. We get themes of redemption through faith in this film even as Helena becoming fulfilled hurts her daughter and ex-husband. When Roy steals Strangler's writing and steals away the taken Dia I suppose we are meant to see him as having all the luck, much like Match Point (2005), but when he loses everything at the end of the film he doesn't have faith to turn to. Alfie and Sally's storylines don't appear to be particularly meaningful as we see two great actors be pushed into roles that don't really fit them. Some of Allen's films are light comedies like Sleeper (1973) and some are full on dramas like September (1987) but this one chooses to sit awkwardly in the middle, this left me not laughing while not being emotionally touched.
It shames me to say to it but the storyline I found most entertaining was that of Alfie's relationship with Charmaine. I have always enjoyed people being simply awful and Punch is fantastic as the shallow, manipulative but thick as a brick ex-prostitute who's only asset is her physical appearance. Her accent is so ghastly and her facial expressions so obvious that it's easy to hate her but somehow her ambition is oddly admirable even as she gains her fortune through ill means. I found myself drawn in as she flirts with other men at the gym and asks Alfie if they can visit Cartier later. The kicker comes when she reveals that she is pregnant to him and although we are almost certain it is not his she attempts to pressure him into raising the child as his own. Of course Hopkins is good as he bounces off of her but Punch really takes charge when she's on screen.
The performances of others in the film though felt lacking. Brolin is dull as the character who gets the most screen time but he gets given some pretty awful material to work with and I've never considered him the sort of actor who would fit into an Allen ensemble comedy. Watts isn't bad she just doesn't get any opportunities to be as great as she is in Eastern Promises (2007) and While We're Young (2014). As a whole this feels like a wasted opportunity, as most Allen failures do, because such a talented but eclectic cast has been assembled and the seed of the ideas for the characters seem fascinating. If you want to see a great Woody Allen movie watch Interiors (1978) because it features one of the greatest Geraldine Page performances ever seen on film and elegantly handles it's characters.
Reviews here tend to compare this film with earlier Woody Allen films. Why? Why not compare with contemporary romcoms and superhero comicbooks come to life? Why compare at all? This film is actually pretty good. It's a snapshot of 2010 for the future to marvel over. I know people like these. I found myself rooting for the characters then getting annoyed with them and their choices. It misfits together brilliantly, lives touching lives, and it describes what motivates people and what gives meaning to our lives today. Not a lot of English Language movies go into such territory. See it with friends; this film makes for conversations afterwards. Enjoy; it's good work, beautifully lit, the sound is recorded fabulously (so unusual these days), the acting is bang on, the directing precise. It's got some laughs and a lot of awkward social situations to cringe over.
Interesting cast had its funny moments but nothing there to build on.
#woodyallenretro Podcast Project
Overall humorous in it's cynical message that delusions at times can make us happy for even just a brief period but the clear waste of talent for actors such as Banderas feels criminal - the mini plots are not ones you feel emotionally connected to and most of these stories don't actually end completely, even if we can see the harsh realties on the horizon - also the London setting is very drab so the visuals cannot pleasantly distract from the sloggish narrative and overall as many have echoed this feels like a very autopilot movie for Allen to create and we guess that's to be expected at times for a yearly creator with a yearly goal - again, we wish the movie actually lived up to its more romantic sounding title but this really comes off as a very tepid experience ...guess it was worth it to see Sir Anthony Hopkins working out at the gym in a very out of character mid life crisis story? Uhmmm - then again, maybe not :P
Another movie written and directed by Woody Allen. Most of Allen's movies take place in New York City but this one takes place in London. As usual his movies are jam packed with very famous actors playing people involved in very complicated relationships. Naomi Watts is Sally, the daughter of an elderly couple who decide to divorce after years of marriage. Her mother finds comfort in advice from a fortune teller. In addition Sally's marriage is failing. Her husband leaves her for another woman. Sally's father marries a woman half his age. Things end badly for everyone except for Sally's mother who finds happiness when she meets a man who shares her belief in reincarnation. This movie leave s a lot of loose ends that makes you wonder what happened to those people but that may be the whole point. There are a lot of uncertainties in life.
Un film très anecdotique
Wonderful and underappreciated ensemble piece from the great Woody Allen. Every character is in some way connected to the others, and each of them is in crisis and behaving badly and self-destructively as they seek happiness. Superbly acted by all, but particularly Gemma Jones as a divorcee who stifles her existential loneliness by seeking solace from a fraudulent psychic.
"-Sometimes illusions work better than medicine."
Strength comes from it's performances. A relatively good Allen picture. The resolution may leave a little to be desired for some, but it was at least getting somewhere reasonably interesting. One for the fans perhaps.
There's nothing worse than a film that feels like a total waste of time. Even the worst films I've seen recently (like Somewhere, from last year) have some redeeming qualities. Woody Allen's latest, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, is not only pointless, but also the worst Allen film I've ever seen. It's not funny or insightful. Its characters are quite unlikeable. And it ends with nothing resolved. I've been thinking hard since seeing the film about what the message might be, and I just can't fathom what it is. If any of you have seen it and can enlighten me, please...
The film is an ensemble piece which follows a number of unhappy individuals in England. Sally (Naomi Watts) is stuck in a crumbled marriage to writer Roy (Josh Brolin), whose first book was a smashing success but hasn't had anything remotely successful since. Sally is also saddled with her depressed mother, Helena (Gemma Jones), whose husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), has left her for a hot young prostitute, Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Helena has started seeing a woman with "psychic" powers, which has seemingly turned her life around, but her luck doesn't transfer well to her loved ones. Alfie goes into debt trying to keep Charmaine happy. Sally longs for her boss (Antonio Banderas), a married man. And Roy flirts with the sexy woman in red across the courtyard (Freida Pinto) while suffering through an excruciating bout of writer's block.
The only likeable person in this mess is Helena, and her daffiness is almost too much to handle. The things they do are mostly just wrong, and the film ends so suddenly that we don't get to see many of their stories through to their conclusion. That's the film's death blow, really. We suffer through 90 minutes of near-excruciating pointlessness with the expectation that there will be some payoff. But no, Allen decides that this meaningless story should remain just that-meaningless.
The performances range from bland to downright bad. The only standout is Lucy Punch, who is genuinely amusing as the Pretty Woman-like prostitute. Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, and Antonio Banderas have embarrassingly little to do. Gemma Jones, as I said, plays the film's only likeable character, but she threatens that likability by taking her character's goofiness way over the top. Naomi Watts arguably plays the film's lead character, but by the end of the film, we can't stand her. Her character's arc is totally misguided-one of the film's biggest problems. Brolin, meanwhile, is extremely one-note, and that note isn't especially pleasant.
Despite being quite short, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger felt insanely long. It takes wrong turn after wrong turn until you pretty much stop caring what it says. I honestly didn't think Allen had a film this bad in him. His latest films have been something of a mixed bag, ranging from great (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point) to average (Cassandra's Dream). But nothing he's done has been awful-until this mess of a film.