Match Point may well be a return to form, but only for those who love September and Interiors, movies populated by Bergman evacuees too inert and dreary to even crack a smile. And Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson are no Martin Landau and Anjelica Huston. Hard to believe they're even in the same profession especially Johansson, who has never seemed more adrift.
Rhys Meyers is former tennis pro Chris Wilton, who washes up teaching the idle rich at a posh English country club. At first he seems like one of those blank guys whose lives are guided by good fortune; he's an accidental tourist who keeps winding up in the right place at the right time. One of his first pupils is a handsome young man named Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) who has a wealthy, powerful father (Brian Cox); a smart, beautiful sister (Emily Mortimer); and a box at the opera, which Chris claims to love. Within no time, Chris is whisked into the family as prospective son-in-law and employee two positions he claims he's reluctant to inherit, though we suspect otherwise, if only because Allen sets up Tom, not his sister, as the real object of Chris' affection.
But Allen is too conventional to proffer any homoerotic attraction, so he offers instead the obvious alternative: Nola (Johansson), Tom's American fiancée, an actress with a single commercial to her credit. Allen wastes no time in cutting to the chase: Suddenly, Chris is grabbing and groping her without knowing who she is. Allen means to throw us off the scene of the Chris-Tom relationship; why would he want him when he can have her?
Chris wants Nola when she doesn't want him, then wants nothing to do with her once she wants only him and threatens to tell people. But whereas Crimes and Misdemeanors offered trenchant discussions of decency and morality versus those tethered to the "mumbo jumbo" of faith, Match Point is facile and hollow. It's obsessed only with luck and the slight separation between the good bounce and the bad one. Maybe this is a comedy after all, because after all these years and all these movies and all this life, the best Allen can come up with now is a movie about how nothing means anything unless the ball just happens to fall your way. It's almost laughable.