Sunday, September 12, 2010


Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Freida Pinto

Helena: I will not be alone. I will find love. I can rest assured.

If you’re watching an ensemble comedy where one man can’t stop obsessing about his attractive neighbour, where his wife can’t control her lust for her new boss, and where her father meanwhile won’t accept his looming death, trading in his wife of 30 years for a younger model, sending said former wife into the reassuring arms of a psychic, there’s a good chance you’re watching a Woody Allen film. There is a familiarity about Allen’s latest, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, that makes you feel instantly at home and keeps you comfortable throughout. The trouble with comfort though is that it doesn’t really bring anything we haven’t seen already, begging the question, why are we here yet again?

Comfort is ordinarily the enemy in an Allen movie. After all, if you’ve reached a place in your life or relationship where you actually feel comfortable, then there must be something terribly wrong. That said, how often do you meet Allen characters whose lives are all settled and lovely? The case here is no different. Set in London, every major character in this premise is at a place in their lives where they each feel unfulfilled and is longing for that next big something that will enter their lives and give them what they’ve always longed for – happiness. This being a Woody Allen film, I would not hold my breath if I were them. Still, Allen almost seems to be delighting in toying with them and his delight is certainly infectious. He may be exploring the same issues he has been for years now but in all fairness, these are the same issues most of us grapple with for all of our lives too. It doesn’t seem right to chastise Allen for not having understood love after so long. It’s not like I do either.

Allen opens and closes YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER with the same rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star”. He may be allowing all of the little extensions of himself run amok with their fictional lives on screen but he almost seems to be suggesting that all of their issues stem from a desire for something more, that inherently negates what they all already have. Even the title itself promises that one day our wishes will be fulfilled but it also implies simultaneously that they can’t be right now as we have yet to meet this stranger. Perhaps it would be better if we got to know the strangers that are already in our lives; perhaps then we could want them there all the time instead of just when we’re at our best or worst. Maybe if we did, we might be finally able to get comfortable ourselves.

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