You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
Woody Allen returns with another film set in London (the recent ones being ‘Match Point’ and ‘Cassandra’s Dream’), this time writing and directing another ensemble who fall in and out love, are cheating and beating cheated upon, without regard for others’ and their own sanity.
Former senior-citizen couple Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones) have recently separated; Alfie takes a much younger woman – a prostitute – as his new bride while jilted Helena dabbles in spiritualistic activities, seeking the fortune-teller’s prediction that she will meet a ‘tall dark stranger’. Their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) who works in a gallery is married to Roy (Josh Brolin), an author.
He feels down for having not written a follow-up to his first novel yet. Like Sally’s parents, their marriage has issues; she’s infatuated with her new boss (Antonio Banderas), and Roy has just fallen in love with Dia (Frieda Pinto), a young Indian girl who lives across the street. In this complicated maze of relationships, newly-formed and disintegrating, lies the story of ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’.
It is quite troubling that the people in this film find it so easy to commit infidelity. You’re made to believe that people are just naturally flighty without consciences or throw the word Love around like they’re bread crumbs for birds to peck on. Alas, such is the theme of most Woody Allen films. Of course, loyal married couples are boring, nothing to explore there. With infidels however, you’ve got romance dramedy gold.
Unlike other Allen films though, ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ does not contain the same charisma of other Allen features. It lacks wit, glib, and tries at quirky but ends up contrived, unfunny, and annoying. I suppose that’s what the film wants to point out: Cheating is stupid. Stupid people cheat. But what lies beneath all the cheating is a much more hurtful truth. Maybe discontent, selfishness, or the idea that maybe these people are just bored out of life and in each other. And the quickest way to re-animate their already set lives is to complicate things more.