I take great comfort in the fact that moviegoers are flocking to see Black Swan, The Fighter and The King’s Speech right now. Hollywood loves to proclaim the adult drama dead, but all three R-Rated films are quickly on their way toward a $100 Million gross. Perhaps this is owing to awards season hype and filmgoers’ desire to feel part of the Oscar race, but whatever the reason, it’s encouraging to see films made for people other than teenage fanboys succeed. Now, if only viewers would partake in well made adult films that fall outside the awards season calendar. Then, they might not have missed September’s endearing and entertaining You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. My review after the break:
There’s a consensus that writer/director Woody Allen achieved serious creative second wind (or was it third or fourth?) by leaving the isle of Manhattan to make films overseas. The brilliant and devious London-set Match Point kicked off the trend, while the sexy and witty Spain-set Vicky Christina Barcelona cemented it. After a recent misguided trip back to New York for Whatever Works (the comedy starring Larry David that should have worked…but didn’t), Allen is back across the Atlantic for You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, featuring one of his best, and best-looking ensembles in years.
In the film, the lovely Gemma Jones (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince) plays the recently divorced matriarch of an upper-middle class family who seeks solace in visits with a quack psychic. Meanwhile, her ex-husband, played by a tanned and toned Anthony Hopkins, is going through a post mid-life crisis that involves heavy exercise, buying a sports car and hooking up with a big breasted Cockney hooker with an acting past (isn’t it usually the other way around?). This leaves their daughter Sally, played by a luminous Naomi Watts, to pick up the pieces just as her marriage to Josh Brolin’s struggling novelist is falling apart and her crush on Antonio Banderas’s gallery owner is on the rise. Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire’s gorgeous Freida Pinto joins the romantic roundelay as a music student who catches Brolin’s wandering eye.
Stranger’s cast is uniformly good and the film is kept light by its buoyant score and its lovely-in-Spring London setting. Still, it manages to explore such provocative dramatic themes as the dissolution of family, marital infidelity and fate versus free will. Of course, Allen has explored these themes before, but they’re once again skillfully woven into a pleasantly entertaining little movie that should amuse adult audiences in need of a break from heavier, Oscar-bait adult fare.
Woody Allen speaks through his movies, which speak for themselves. Translation? No added value.
The 1080p high definition flatters the work of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (The Black Dahlia, Heaven’s Gate, The Deer Hunter) and shows off the film’s pleasing pastel palette. Audio options include English and French LCR DTS-HD MA. Subtitle options are English, English SDH and French.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is an entertaining film with a good looking cast whose myriad storylines and characters should amuse the discerning adult movie watcher.