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Woody Allen serves a winning 'Match Point'

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In Woody Allen's "Match Point," Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a hustling Irish tennis pro, insinuates himself into the British country club establishment by marrying Chloe (Emily Mortimer), the daughter of a prominent businessman, while pursuing an affair with his brother-in-law's red-hot fiancée, Nola (Scarlett Johansson). It is not a comedy, not even slightly.

Allen is so identified with New York City that whenever he ventures outside it to make a movie, it's headline news. "Match Point," his latest, was filmed in London (he's already filmed a second project there), but the reasons have more to do with artistic freedom than aesthetics. In an interview in the latest issue of "Written By," the Writer's Guild of America's magazine, Allen says, "I might work abroad a little bit unless I can find a situation in the United States where they'll let me make my movies the way I can make them."

In terms of its story there is no compelling reason why Allen could not have set "Match Point" in New York's Upper East Side (his neighborhood), but the change of scenery has done him some good. If the American studios are less amenable to Allen's cloistered, control-freak working methods these days, he seems to have made up for it: "Match Point" is his best film in some time, although it should be pointed out that it is his only good film in some time. Even "Match Point" suffers by comparison to its obvious predecessor, "Crimes and Misdemeanors," which explored similar moral issues more profoundly.

Still, the film is good enough that you don't feel the need for a few laughs to leaven the grimness. It's about the role that luck plays in determining fate.


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