You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Woody Allen’s latest film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger begins with a voice over that quotes something Shakespeare once wrote about how life is a story, told by an idiot full of sound and fury and it signifies nothing. Is this a clever wink to us, from Allen himself, who realizes best of all that his movies are mostly superfluous any more? I prefer to think that this is the case, since the opposite would mean that Allen himself has become superfluous, and his movies are no longer relevant for the most part. I’ll acquiesce the competence of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Match Point. But those are only two of the ten films he’s released since 2000.

True to Shakespeare’s words, there’s a lot of conflict in Dark Stranger. There are a lot of tortured artists in relationships that made them unhappy for no other reason than they themselves are insatiable. Leaving these partners that are incapable of making them happy leaves them with new partners that can’t make them happy, not that they even try to. It’s a vicious cycle that Allen has tried to convince us it’s new again by the way he handles the climax of these conflicts. For the most part, the yelling and screaming is glossed over (and mercifully so, since Allen usually prefers painfully unscripted ad-libbing in these parts) and the audience is left to rationally, without emotion, deal with the consequences.  In Match Point, this idea was kept interesting by the protagonist’s deliberate decision to kill in order to maintain what he deemed important.  In Barcelona, it was kept fresh by the idea we’d all like to have a wild threesome in Spain’s countryside with two damaged, but beautiful artists.  But it seems Allen has taken it as far as the concept can go.  There’s no more fury to be made.

So, Dark Stranger shows us Roy, who’s married to Sally, who’s in love with her boss Greg, and Roy’s in love with the guitar player in the window across the way. Sally’s father Alfie, during a midlife crisis, leave his boozy wife (who latches on to fortune teller) and marries a prostitute who’s in it for the money. Each of the characters, I may add, are played by some pretty fantastic actors, like Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and James Brolin, to name a few. This is also the first thing we’ve seen Freido Pinto in since Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.  Allen put just enough effort into the script that there are some clever moments, but clever is probably the highest compliment I can give them. And, as the first opening lines promised, the movie There’s a lot of noise, unhappiness, struggling for something, but it signifies nothing.  And as such, it feels like my time has been wasted.  And so will yours.  Unless you’re looking for a sound a fury that mean nothing.


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