Thursday, 31 March 2011

you'll meet a tall dark (or blonde) stranger.....

Woody Allen; Hollywood legend, writer, director and actor, brings together a new ensemble cast (yes, he likes those) for his new film, You'll Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.

The film follows the lives of different types of people who are all connected by default, from their relationships with one character or another.
The story centres around the complicated issues of relationships -to name a few: the highs and lows of marriage, forgiveness, jealousy, selfishness and of
Its set in London and primaraly focuses on ones families struggle with their own and each others romantic relationships. It has all of the usual wit and clever lines penned by Allen, along with relatable characters and a fresh insight into the ideals, struggles and aspirations of adult relationships.
Acting veteran, Gemma Jones plays Helena Shebritch, who is recently separated from her husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) after a long, but not so, happy -ever -after marriage, which has come to an end by the speration of interests and the ongoing shared pain from a loss of a child.

Lost Helena, finds comfort by visiting a charlatan clairvoyant, Cristal, played by the brilliant Pauline Collins (who adopts an east-end accent for the role), recommended by her financially strapped daughter played by the ever so spot on, Naomi Watts, who is also struggling with her own marriage to doctor-turned writer, Roy Channing, played by a short and stumpy Josh Brolin- who is a far cry away from his usual enigmatic and charismatic self.
Whilst Helena takes on board everything the charlatan tells her, in the hope of finding some sort of guidance or sign of a hopeful future, Hopkins's character has found a new lease of life by working out, tanning, bleaching his teeth and meting a leggy young blonde named Charmaine, played by the very impressive London born,-Lucy Punch, who replaced Nicole Kidman in the role- which in my opinion is a blessing, not only for Lucy and the offers that will be pouring in after this pitch perfect performance- but for the entire cinema going public who would probably agree that Kidman would have been better off without the task of playing a young, sexy and charming Charmaine. (who sounds like and looks like, a footballers wife from Essex).

Meanwhile, Watts takes on a new role as a PA to help support her one time published writer husband, who finds herself falling for the charms of her smoldering, Latino, married boss, played by the never ageing Antonio Banderas. Whilst Watts is working every hour god sends to support her and her husband, in the hope that one day he will finish his book, get published (again) and give her a baby -Brolin's character finds light and inspiration from a beautiful stranger dressed in red, (played by the breathtaking beauty, Frinda Pinto) who lives opposite and acts as an antidote to his nagging wife and a perfect distraction to his writing- that seems to be going nowhere. Frinda and Banderas too find themselves intrigued by their own 'tall dark strangers' and would like to know more; the flirtations begin with comedic consequences and perfect on screen chemistry from Naomi and Antonio. Half way through the movie, it seems - everyone is 'at it'.

Along with this wonderful array of characters, you have the pleasure of many familiar British actors popping up for a cameo role here and there, notably Anna Friel, who plays an Irish artist connected by Watts's character by proxy of education and having the shared sexual intentions for the Latino boss as she does (i told you they were all at it). Also, audiences will have the added pleasure of the wonderful Cecilia Imurie showing her face in the shape of a snotty friend of Jones's character, who inadvertently introduces Helena to a new romance, who shares the same beliefs about life as she does.

The story really squeezes out the joys, the hurt and the complexities of relationships and also the hazards, the guilt and heartache of  new romances, which in turn can bring about happiness too. Life and love is not all rosy as the movie clearly points out and that the cliché tall dark stranger- as the title suggests, is not all what or who it appears to be.

The ensemble cast is superb; mixed with acting veterans; home grown talent and fresh faces (watch this space for the explosion of Lucy Punch, who could be the new face of ditzy-blonde comedy). The writing is sensitive, very funny and extremely well executed by all of the actors on board the Allen ship.
London looks great in the capable hands of Woody's direction, who choices a more neighborhood type approach to film, rather than; grand swooping shots of Londons attractions and skyline -which he so beautiful captured in his much earlier classic, Manhattan.
The genius film maker that is Woody Allen, somehow after all his years can still make films that are fresh, unique, charming and a pleasure to watch- You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger was just as interesting on the subject of relationships (although not as quirky) as Vicky Christina Barcelona was and shows that great actors will still work even in the smallest of roles for a chance to work with him.

If you are looking for a force fed romantic comedy i wouldn’t recommend you go see this. However, if you proffer to be the story teller yourselves and come to your own conclusions about love, relationships and the complexities of why people choose to be with other people -then you will not be disappointed.

You'll Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, is on nationwide release NOW (but i recommend the Everyman cinema in Hampstead for the leg room, cushions and yummy chocolate covered raisins)

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