Allen’s new film holds its own
Good old reliable Woody Allen brings us his annual autumn effort right on time with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, a film about delusion and the long fall from its graces.
Allen arms his characters with flimsy fantasy and cruelly hurls existential woe at them just to watch them squirm. Their resulting discomfort is satisfying enough to overlook some sloppy plot progressions that intrude in near the end of the film.
Sally (Naomi Watts) and Roy (Josh Brolin) are a married couple who have spent all their magical misconceptions about life together. But rather than face reality, both begin looking to greener pastures where the hills of illusion have yet to be grazed bare.
The subplots bring the film’s theme of delusion to an amusing, but somewhat obvious peak.
Sally’s father Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) has left his wife Helena (Jemma Jones) for the laughably younger and sluttier Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Over the years Allen has matched plenty of doddering old men with beautiful young women, but this is the first time he has fed his impotent proxy Viagra. The resulting scene feels like it should roll with a laugh track on a quality sitcom.
While her ex-husband does his best to deny the ravages of time, Helena seeks refuge from the truth with a charlatan psychic. Helena’s sessions give her the false authority to march into scenes with harsh insight into everybody’s life but her own.
As the plots wrap up, characters take some long leaps in order to meet their ends. Thankfully, the cast takes them in stride, allowing the viewer to get to the credits without too much muscle strain.
The film falls somewhere in the middle of the efforts brought to the screen by Allen this decade. With less sophistication than Vicky Christina Barcelona, and more humour than Scoop, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger lives up to Allen’s legacy.