Directed by Woody Allen
If you haven't seen this movie yet, please take this piece of advise to heart. Do not under any circumstances miss the opening scene. It's nothing outstanding in itself. It's actually an extremely simple scene albeit very elegantly crafted; almost too perfect without ever coming close to being a cliché. The importance of this scene is not what we usually imply when we use that word. You wouldn't actually think you missed out on anything if you go in late and do not see it. But trust me, you would actually have missed an enormously satisfying experience. And, I don't mean it in the sense of missing out on really great chocolate or ice cream. Those are indulgences and many of us certainly should skip them. This is certainly an indulgence. But so much more than that. It's one of those things that give you real satisfaction. You even know that it is going to happen when it does, as it's made obvious. With all this transparency, the scene still delivers on it's satiation and I mean it in the positive definition of that term.
This is a very different kind of movie than you would expect from Woody Allen. Not too much neuroses here, to be sure. True, it's a theme he has explored earlier in Crimes and Misdemeanors. He takes a very different route here with it and very satisfying one. In addition, placing it in England is very new for him. The mostly English / UK cast makes the movie even more appealing as we can focus on the acting and the story line, especially for most of us who are used to the typical Hollywood movies. Of course, when does Mr. Allen make a typical Hollywood movie, anyway?
It starts out as a fairly straightforward story about ambition and love. Then lust makes it's entrance. We expect this, of course, based on the trailers. Even without that, it's pretty clear that it is right around the corner as soon as the two lead characters meet. The next stretch of the movie is a somewhat predictable sequence of events that we read about and have seen in many movies and television shows. Then it get's interesting. And, I don't mean the affair part. It's best if you saw the movie without knowing much more than this about the story line.
The movie moves at a very leisurely pace and at times you're anxious to get it going. This is not really a problem. It's just that the story is building up so well, that you want to know what happens next and how everything gets resolved. Very much like the experience of reading a well written and slow-paced book. The pleasure of reading through is very much there along with the anxiety of wanting to know what's coming up.
The acting is extremely good including all the supporting cast. Scarlett Johansson looks her usual sensual self and is very good as the other woman and everything that goes with it. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is excellent as the young not-quite-so-successful tennis player who is trying any way he can to get ahead in the world and actually settles down to enjoying the fruits of his labours and becoming a normal family man. Emily Mortimer pulls off a perfect performance as this very nice woman who, while having grown up in a very wealthy environment, has her feet very much on the ground. As I mentioned earlier, there is a uniformly high level of performance from even the smallest role. Their characters and acting all fit together very neatly. A very good movie and definitely one not to be missed.