"Hannah and Her Sisters," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Husbands and Wives" and "Sweet and Lowdown" all stand as high points in the zigzag graph of Allen's filmography, but things went pretty badly south after that last one: "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion," "Hollywood Ending," "Anything Else" and "Melinda and Melinda" rank among the auteur's worst.
The arrival of "Match Point" at Cannes, then, seemed like a breakthrough -- not only was it a serious drama after years of pathetic comedies, but it was set in London instead of Allen's beloved New York, delving into the class struggle of a penniless tennis pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who marries into an upper-class family, only to begin an affair with his brother-in-law's fiancée (Scarlett Johansson).
It's a solid drama, and the change of scenery does seem to have done Allen a world of good. The story isn't quite as original as he'd like us to think -- crucial plot points are lifted right out of "Crimes and Misdemeanors" -- but it does work, and the cast (which also includes Emily Mortimer, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton and rising star Matthew Goode) is uniformly strong.
If "Match Point's" final act isn't quite as shattering as one might expect, that's largely because Allen is still stuck using the same frustrating pacing that have plagued his movies since the 1970s. But it's still the best movie he's made in a long, long time.
DreamWorks' DVD offers an excellent enhanced-widescreen transfer, with the audio presented in Allen's standard Dolby mono. The only extra is a curiously placed trailer for Steven Spielberg's "Munich," possibly substituted at the last minute because someone objected to the inclusion of the flagrantly misleading "Match Point" trailer.
STUDIO: DreamWorks Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2006
TIME: 124 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: English, French and Spanish subtitles.
INTERNET SITE: dreamworks.com/matchpoint