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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

April 11, 2011

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2011)
Director: Woody Allen
Actors: Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin

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Synopsis: The divorce of an eminent London couple (Gemma Jones and Anthony Hopkins) sets in chain a sequence of crises for everyone associated with them.

Review: As much as I try to locate some small crumb of comfort in even the most meagre Woody Allen film – he’s usually reliable for a witty line here, or an interesting little idea there – the overriding mediocrity and obsolescence of his recent work is becoming increasingly indefensible. What’s strange about Allen is that he is clearly a director who places strong value in the practice of acting and writing, yet You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is staggeringly poorly cast and clunkily written. It feels more like a rough collection of ideas and skits than a rigorously-honed scenario, and though Allen apologists will argue for a radical atheistic commentary coursing through the film, there’s a big difference between a voiceover lazily reciting popular philosophical gambits, and a film that is genuinely radical to its core.

Summarising much of what is wrong with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is the subplot about Anthony Hopkins’ character’s menopausal affair with Lucy Punch’s hooker. Casting-wise, it’s a disaster as Hopkins’ somnambulant performance proves Allen’s neurotic world view isn’t for every actor, and his presence smacks more of some valedictory casting than anything else. And though I accept that Allen often employs classic farce as a rhetorical tool in his films, this Hopkins-Punch section is so lame and broadly cartoonish that it negates the fairly serious tone of the rest of the film and Allen’s grander philosophical aims. (April 2011)

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