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Match Point

In the early 2000's, Woody Allen was in a bit of a funk. His usual inspirations failing and his box office results declining in equal measure, he decided to head to the UK for a change in scenery.

It worked. 2005's MATCH POINT was one of his best films and biggest hits in years.

It's not traditional Woody and strictly dramatic, but a terrific film.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) plays down on his luck, former rising tennis pro Chris Wilton. Chris's wealthy friend Tom connects him as a teaching pro to a posh club and soon Chris is traveling in the wealthiest circles of London.

Tom's sister Chloe begins to fall for Chris and that circle then grows to include Tom's very wealthy family.

On a visit to the Hewitt stately country home, Chris meets and instantly falls in love with struggling American actress Nola Rice, seductively played by Scarlett Johansson.

Chris and Nola flirt, there's obvious attraction, but Nola is engaged to Tom.

What follows is best left unsaid, but like one of my favorite Allen films, "Crimes and Misdemeanors", the story explores what people can do to protect their way of life, including betrayal and murder.

Johansson is very good here, detailing a very fragile woman behind the perfect exterior.

Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island) is terrific as Chloe, Matthew Goode is great as Tom and Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) are near perfect as Tom & Chloe's parents.

Rhys is powerful throughout as a man whose world is unraveling thanks to unbridled desire.

The film opens with a simple scene comparing tennis to life that plays out perfectly within the mystery. It's some of Allen's most observant and suspenseful writing in years.

The opening narration has Rhys voicing, "The man who said "I'd rather be lucky than good" saw deeply into life." Allen spends the next two hours carefully unwrapping exactly how that will play out for Chris Wilton. It's virtuoso filmmaking.

Game, set and Match for Allen. MATCH POINT gets an A.

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