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Jackie K. Cooper

Jackie K. Cooper

Posted: October 25, 2010 12:05 PM

If you have lived long enough then you can remember the glory days of Woody Allen. This was when he made films such as Bullets Over Broadway, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan and his biggest hit, Annie Hall. In those days everyone spoke of Allen's genius in writing, and of his way of coaching the best performances from his actors. He should have stopped while he was ahead because now all we get are pale imitations of what once was.

His latest film, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, is a perfect example of the downfall of his talent. Allen directed and wrote this movie and it is not very good in either case. The script is full of potential but in the end it isn't funny, it isn't dramatic, it isn't romantic, it isn't anything.

The movie is basically a roundelay. Helena (Gemma Jones) and Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) are getting a divorce because Alfie wants to hang on to his youth. In trying to stay young Alfie meets and marries a "club hostess" named Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Helena assuages her sorrow by going to see a psychic named Cristal (Pauline Collins).

Alfie and Helena's daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) is married to Roy (Josh Brolin). He has a medical degree but wants to be a writer. He has had one semi-successful book, but the rest have been failures. He spends his time looking out his apartment window into the window of a girl named Dia (Freida Pinto). Meanwhile Sally has developed a crush on her boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas).

As you can see there are more plots and subplots than you can imagine. And all of them are fairly interesting but none of them go anywhere. The movie spends all of its time setting up various situations and then just ends without letting anything play out. It is disappointing to say the least and maddening to say the worst. What was Allen thinking? Did he run out of time, money or a combination of both?

The movie is rated R for profanity and sexual situations.

The acting in the movie is good, if not great. Hopkins has the role Allen usually would play. You can see him in Hopkins' delivery of certain lines as well as his physical mannerisms. Brolin seems to like playing the cad and Punch makes Charmaine fun even as she mines for gold in her relationships.

The actors however can't make the script work. It is full of worn out "Woody-isms" and lacks the sardonic affect his scripts used to have. Even when someone co-wrote the scripts the Woody factor was in full force.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a movie that provides us with a picture of Allen's talent on the decline. It might rise again but probably not. Clint Eastwood who is older than Allen appears to be in his prime directing hit after hit. Allen appears to have had a limited amount of talent that he has already spent.

I scored "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger" a psychic 4 out of 10.