Many critics have been giving Woody Allen’s most recent film “Match Point” heat for its “tortuously slow pace” and so-called poor acting by a certain Miss Scarlett Johansen. Even so, I stand by the film as a magnificent change in pace for director Woody Allen.

For those of you who have seen Allen’s classic films like “Manhattan” or “Annie Hall” you would have heard him ranting and raving about how much he adores the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Even then it was evident that Allen would one day pay tribute to his most respected director.

“Match Point” is certainly the closest Allen has come – at least of the films I have seen – to emulating a Bergman piece.

At times the film seems very reminiscent of “Through a Glass Darkly,” similarly dealing with the twisted psyche of an affluent family and the complicated and distanced interactions between its members. Both films leave you feeling scorched, uneasy and with a sense of overwhelming frustration.

This sort of sordidly wearisome tone is certainly what Allen was attempting to achieve but may have turned many people off to the film. Allen develops his characters slowly over the course of the film, attempting to show, through the seemingly banal dialogue early in the film, that the urbanite lifestyle is boring. However, the comforts associated with this lifestyle are difficult to give up.

While others have said that the script is not well written, I disagree with this statement.

Though seemingly simple at times, Allen focuses on the petty interests of these overly privileged characters, especially the egocentric character Chris, who has become so accustomed to luxury that he will do anything to preserve it.

The film also has direct allusions to Dostoevsky. For example, the film’s narrator, Chris, reads “Crime and Punishment” in one of the opening scenes. The drawn out character development and plot typical of Dostoevsky’s novels clearly were central influences on the film.

Many have said the film is too similar to Allen’s 1989 work “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” I have not seen this so I cannot defend it here. However, I stand by “Match Point” with its well done and aesthetically pleasing cinematography which we are allowed plenty of time to absorb due to its rhythmically slow pacing.

Though it is by no means his best film, “Match Point” is a fine attempt to do something different for another generation as Allen, who is now 71, nears the end of his career.

Oleksa can be reached

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