08 June 2021 347 Views

Crime of the Scene: YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER.

by James Murphy

WOODY ALLEN: I am making a citizen’s arrest! You belong in JAIL. (MOVIE VIRAL JAIL!). No, not serious stuff. Just trade descriptions violations. Namely: YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER (2010). 

Continuing my series in which I pick one scene that kinda derails an entire movie or simply exposes the piece’s fatal flaws. This week, it’s a quasi-acclaimed one: YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER. People actually seemed to LIKE this film. WHHYYYYYY? It’s just ‘noise and fury’ as Shakespeare and indeed, Allen, say, via the script in question. Dark. Dull. Devoid of pace or purpose. Much like a lot of Woody’s stuff, in fact, imho.

Sorry, yes, I know a lot of you think he is great and witty and wise. I never ‘got’ that. Always felt there was a bit of the Oscar Wilde syndrome, whereby rather thick people think it’s somehow clever to quote or misquote Allen, notably the sex stuff (of which there is rather too much, like some dim witted adolescent who just discovered the concept).

‘Is sex dirty? It is if you’re doing it right’ etc: yawn. But I digress. Like I say, Woody is clever and reads widely, beyond the initial comic books and joke writing he prized as a younger fella. He clearly invests that literary might in his own scripts. Coz 2010’s YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is littered with references to writers and writing, via the usual tropes of a guy trying to finish a new novel and finding muses en route.

The piece has a first rate cast. BANDERAS! HOPKINS! BROLIN! BUT THEY ARE NEVER ONSCREEN TOGETHER!! There are some interesting ideas here too (spiritualism vs materialism; age vs beauty; fidelity and freedom etc) and that verges on rich in its unmined potential.

Had this been made as a sweet rom-com, via choppy edits and chirpy soundtrack? It would have worked a LOT better and there could still have existed some darker designs in places. But no. It’s just soul destroying, depressing and despondent; a sequence of vignettes and threads that fail to mesh. Bathetic, too: Allen’s SCOOP and MATCH POINT from his similar London fixated era at least provide some plot pay offs. Not so, here. Matters not helped by a truly lazy voiceover device to attempt some last minute cohesion.

WHY did I even watch it? What drew me to it, so? Well, the poster looked cute and fluffy in tone and the cast SEEMS to pair NAOMI WATTS and LUCY PUNCH. I repeat: actual NAOMI meeting actual LUCY!!! The two most divine, talented, alluring, exquisite creations to grace the screen. You know I love them both. All you need do is throw in Nicole Kidman (who was almost cast in the Lucy role) and you have a trio of graces. Gwynnnnie Paltrow and Sienna Miller would be too much, though. 😉 But even Woody could only get Naomi and Lucy. Which is fine btw. Just wish he’d used them better and more often. Which brings me back on track..

..Where was I?? Oh, yes..

..LUCY! NAOMI! And Allen does have the two meet. FOR ONE SCENE! And it SHOULD be an hilarious pairing. Indeed, their rivalry / friendship / woteva shoulda been the entire movie. But no. We get Lucy with an awkward accent and Naomi with nowhere left to go. That ONE scene is damning evidence for the crime, Woody! YOU ARE GOING TO (MOVIE-VIRAL) JAIL!!

And the only good thing about this is my objectivity. See, I have real trouble giving negative reviews to actresses I love. That’s why this is a blog rather than a profession. As Naomi Watts’ lovely mom once pointed out to me ‘James, if you cannot give Naomi an objective review then you are not doing her any favours. It’s perfectly possible to cite one of her films or shows in a bad light whilst remaining professional and making it clear you admire her as an actor‘ (paraphrase, but). So: Naomi..and Naomi’s mom: I did it! There! Progress, right?!

WOODY ALLEN DECLINED TO COMMENT. But then, I never approached him so..yep. 😉

DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM. IT IS SHIT (IMHO).  



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