Blu-ray Review: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger [M15]

YWMATDS_coverDir: Woody Allen
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Freid Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts

The Film:
You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a 2010 Woody Allen film, one that has perhaps slipped a little under the radar in favour of Midnight In Paris, despite that being made after this. Woody Allen is the type of filmmaker where you are aware you are watching one of his films, no matter what genre he’s gone for. He has a distinct presence in all of his work, whether he be behind the camera or in front of it. While Allen is not in this one, the entire film feels very much like him. This is an odd film, and I wasn’t entirely won over by it despite the cast working hard.

The film focuses on a family group, and their missteps in life and with love. First up we have Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), married for many years but Alfie has left Helena and she is distraught. Next we have their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) who supports her author husband Roy (Josh Brolin), but both their eyes are wondering elsewhere. Sally fancies her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas) and Roys eyes have wondered to the window across the street to Dia (Freida Pinto). It is evident each person is unhappy in life, with Alfie paying for love with Charmaine (Lucy Punch) and Helena relying on a clairvoyant to keep her happy and optimistic.

What is rather striking early on is that these characters are neither likeable or relatable, they don’t feel real and a connection is never formed. It is hard to become invested in the film because of this, it is like we are looking in on these people but we don’t really know why. There is a genre shift in this film that seems really odd, and it is not very fitting. From the opening narration it feels as though this will be a comedy, but these characters are so depressing and seeing them suffer is not much fun, even if they aren’t the nicest. Later on it becomes very seriously and there is so much yelling and nastiness that again how was this ever meant to seem light or amusing? It then ends on such an off note and nothing was really resolved, a part from one character, which wasn’t satisfying.

Alfie is perhaps the easiest character to understand, he’s understanding he’s older and he is wanting to get something out of life that he feels he hasn’t gotten. Leaving his wife was his first step but things don’t pan out for him, and before long he’s smitten with a woman half his age and she is clearly a golddigger. He is using his money to try buy his happiness and ultimately we know the outcome, far before it even happens. Anthony Hopkins does a fairly good job, however Alfie did not feel like the role for him. He doesn’t quite connect in a strong way with Alfie, despite really putting in a solid effort. Helena is distraught over the marriage coming to an end, there is nothing left for her in life, or so she feels. Sally sets her up with a clairvoyant in an attempt to give her hope. Helena becomes obsessed, she takes a hold onto the one positive thing in her life and soon she is happy again. Gemma Jones gives the films best performance, there is a strong connection between actress and character. She conveys all the right emotions and certainly attempts to make Helena an engaging character. Her motivation is clear and while it perhaps isn’t under the best circumstances, she gets a new lease on life and she is better for it.

YWMATDS-21

Sally and Roy are an odd couple, they are a pair that one has to question why they are together and what they see in each other. Sally seems like a nice woman but she is constantly frustrated and the love she has for Roy is not there. Her eyes wondering to her boss makes sense, but it is difficult to understand what she really wants out of life as her mind is constantly changing and rather than do something about it, she just yells. Naomi Watts certainly puts forth a very solid performance, Sally could have been far worse in less capable hands. The pain of Sally is hard to feel, and Watts aims and succeeds in getting something across. Then we have Roy, he seems lazy and not worthy of such an understanding wife who puts up with it. Bored with life perhaps, or perhaps he knows his talented as a writer isn’t where it needs to be. His wondering eye is creepy and difficult to understand how Dia even continues to talk to him. This was not a character that suited Josh Brolin and he really tries to make it work. There was no real investment with the way his performance comes off, and the chemistry just isn’t there between him and Watts. Nor was the chemistry there between him and Pinto, on the other hand at least Watts and Banderas shared a slight sizzle.

It is evident what Allen was going for with this film, an unhappy family being that way due to their own delusions. Is the key to being happy losing the delusion? Allen doesn’t really give an ultimate message because those delusions seem to still be there, and no one wants to let go. Allen had ambition, this just does live up to it, in a way it feels a little rushed. Perhaps he should take a breather once in awhile, and allow his scripts to grow, this certainly could have benefited from that. This is an average entry into Allen’s body of work, worth watching for fans but it is forgettable.

The Australian DVD 

Video/Audio:
The video is presented in 16:9 widescreen and the audio 3.0 Dolby.

Visually the film looks really nice, the transfer has a bit of grain, however it does not really affect how smooth flowing it is. The picture is quite sharp and rather clear. The audio is really strong, everything can be heard easily and most importantly it is very clear.

Rating:
StarRating-02-5

Film details HERE

Thanks to Umbrella Entertainment

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