Allen’s latest existential opus may be set in London, filled with A-list Brits (from Gemma Jones and Anthony Hopkins to Aussie Naomi Watts and Lucy Punch), and start with a quote about futility from Macbeth, but it actually makes better sense on a shelf with his New York films.
Helena (Jones), an older English lady dumped by her husband, cures her distress with the help of a good-natured psychic who conveniently ‘sees’ that a tall dark stranger will enter her life, and much brandy. Alfie (Hopkins), her affluent husband, battles his own mortality with a flighty hooker (Punch, who stepped in for Nicole Kidman as the hilarious Charmaine) and Viagra. Meanwhile their daughter Sally (Watts) grows a crush on her gallerist boss (Antonio Banderas), while her American husband, Roy (Josh Brolin), a failed novelist, whiles away his writer’s block by courting his hot neighbour Dia (Slumdog Millionaire´s Freida Pinto).
In other words: all the ingredients for a classic Woody romp, in this case something between vaudeville and Bergman-lite. So see it either as an enjoyable escapade with a talented cast or as yesteryear’s warmed up stew. A welcome foray into reassuringly familiar territory or more evidence of the 75-year-old Allen’s incapacity for self-renewal. We’re torn.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger | Directed by Woody Allen (USA, Spain 2010), with Gemma Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas. Opens December 2.