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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Game, Set…Match Point?

Published: February 3, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

There are movies out there that are intentionally bizarre. Movies that try to confuse you, or that are so bad, so out there, theyre almost good.

Match Point is not any of these things.

My lone pervasive thought as the screen finally went to black on this film was I cant believe thats what this was about!

Admittedly, I went in cold to the theater, having seen no previews and only gathering that tennis was involved. Somehow in my mind this movie became a sort of pseudo-Wimbledon, with a nice blonde set of Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany equivalents who fall in love. And theres some tennis.

Admittedly, I thought itd be a little more complicated, as I did manage to see the tagline for the movie before diving in, which hinted at possibly more than just a boy meets girl meets happily ever after, just wait two hours for it type of movie.

However, I dont think the movie posters proclamation that There are no little secrets could have prepared me for the next two hours and four minutes of my life. I should have really listened when one of the ticketing agents said Its not a romantic comedy upon overhearing one of my friends say that she hoped it wasnt. And boy, was it ever not.

But thats what you get when someone randomly picks a movie because they remember reading the name somewhere. Either way it was a gamble and, as the first few minutes of the film explain, in life there are moments where something can go either way, good or bad – it just all depends on luck. Therefore, everyone should wish to be lucky above anything else – good, talented, and so on.

Not exactly the moral I heard as my parents tucked me in at night, but alright. Ill go with it. Forget hard work, give me some luck.

However, the message Match Point portrays is not the problem its the way the movie goes about doing so. The main character, Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), is a former professional tennis player who has given up the professional circuit and starts off the movie by getting hired as a tennis instructor at a country club.

Chris begins dating the sister, Claire, of one of his incredibly wealthy tennis students, and stays with her for his professional and personal benefit. She gets him a well-paying job working for her father and in exchange for just one little marriage to a woman that he obviously has no feeling for, he gets to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous, even though he obviously feels sorry for her. At one point in the film he says to the woman that he ends up having an affair with that Claire is a sweet girl, the sure fire sign that he would never be with her did he not have a lot to gain from it for himself.

Sound interesting? No, not exactly. Nor does Chris become personally engaging at any point. I dont hate Chris. I dont like Chris. Some of his actions turn out to be pretty interesting, but he himself is blank. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers manages to maintain a single expression throughout the majority of the film and Chris just seems all the more like an imitation of a human being than an actual member of the species. The only thing in the movie that he expresses any desire or passion for is Nola, his mistress, played by the lovely Scarlett Johansson. The movie then dissolves into the typical Youre never going to leave her! Yes, Im going to tell her tomorrow! tale of a married man and his extra curricular sexual activities.

However, after about one hour and thirty minutes of this, just as I was getting antsy for things to wrap up, something changes. Luckily for the integrity of the film, the change isnt completely unprecedented – there are a couple of hints earlier in the movie that should ring a few bells if you have any familiarity with Dostoevsky. The happiness of the ending is debatable depending on whether you sympathize with Chris or the greater good, but the point, ladies and gentlemen, is that it ends.

Match Point wants the audience to really think about what it means. The soundtrack to the film sums it up – the deep and meaningful classical music and opera that has the real and authentic scratchy sound of vinyl records for added layers of meaning. Maybe that would work if it were actually well done, but with what the film gives and how impossible it is to love any of these characters, the only thing that this movie will make people talk about is grievances against the film.

Which, as far as bonding experiences go, I could get for free just by complaining about the food in Usdan.