First, the good news. For once, a new Woody Allen film is at our multiplexes within a couple of months of its international release. On the downside, though, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger isn’t one of the prolific writer-director’s livelier late-period comedies.
There is a lack of any sort of spark in the romantic entanglements of four members of a family in search of love and fulfillment. Rather, the confection is as flavourful as an overbaked soufflé.The portentous script benefits from an enthusiastic ensemble that is more spirited than the material they are obliged to work with.
Filming in London for the fourth time (after Match Point, Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream), Allen zeroes in on the family matriarch (Gemma Jones) struggling to cope with marital problems. Her husband (Anthony Hopkins) of 40 years has left her for a prostitute (Lucy Punch) who is half his age.
Meanwhile, the marriage of their daughter (Watts) is also on the verge of a breakdown. She is attracted to a suave art gallery owner (Antonio Banderas) even as her spouse (Brolin) obsesses over a sensuous guitar-strumming neighbour (Freida Pinto).
All of the conflicted characters are underdeveloped, although watching them go through their paces does evoke occasional chuckles. The film’s frantic banter feels forced and the four inter-twined storylines converge in a dispiriting finale. The honey-hued cinematography is by the Oscar-winning Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
To paraphrase William Shakespeare’s famous Macbeth quote that bookends the narrative, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is a tale full of sound and fury signifying precious little.