The Critics: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger



DCA 18-31 March

At the age of 75 Woody Allen still finds the energy to put out at least one new film per year. Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Whatever Works marked something of a return to form for the veteran director and his upcoming release, Midnight in Paris, is set to open the 2011 Festival de Cannes this May. It is, therefore, unfortunate that You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger does not live up to the standard of its two most recent predecessors.

The film revolves around several interconnected characters as they embark on new relationships, each meeting with varying degrees of success. In spite of the terrific cast, – Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts to name but a few – the movie lacks the humour of Whatever Works and the memorable performances of Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

That said, certain aspects of the film work well and are, at least, relatively watchable, particularly when Allen broaches familiar territory. Roy Channing (Brolin) is a struggling writer, sick of his wife (Watts) and in need of inspiration, which he finds in the beautiful Dia who lives in the opposite building (Freida Pinto). When his latest novel is rejected, Roy resolves to steal the manuscript of his recently deceased friend, and pass it off as his own work. It is later revealed that the friend was never actually dead but merely in a coma, leaving Roy in a somewhat uncomfortable position. While the Brolin/Pinto segment is vintage Allen, the other characters are mostly just annoying and fail to truly engage the viewer for the duration of the film.

If there is a moral to You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, it is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that we should all learn to appreciate what we already have. The problem with this is that Allen has already made his case, and done so far more eloquently elsewhere in his work. Although it would be safe to assume that the glory days of Annie Hall and Manhattan are far behind us, fans will be hoping that this latest film is merely an unexpected bump in the road.

Ross Dickie


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