The Restless as Usual
Director Woody Allen treads water with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, a perfectly serviceable romantic dramedy about restless couples in London. Once again, Allen has a fine cast on hand to tinker with. The actors include Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, and Freida Pinto. They all play people who are married, or are about to be married, but none of their hearts are in their relationships enough to prevent them from entertaining thoughts of straying for something more passionate.
Reality serves as rude awakenings for most of them, which constrasts the route the character played by Gemma Jones takes -- she sees a fortune teller to calm her nerves and buys into her vision completely and satisfactorily. The idea of happiness coming from delusion is an interesting idea to explore, but Allen is actually more interested in the wrecks in progress of the lives of the other characters; Jones's character serves as a convenient, less fleshed-out antidote, that other side of the fence where the grass looks greener.
But while we're with the unsatisfied bunch, we see arcs we've seen somewhere before: the older man, fearing his mortality, finding false solace with a young (and ditzy) woman; the writer who can't seem to get another break with his career on the brink; the woman whose boss looks much more charming than the husband who refuses to start a family with her. The characters all go through the motions, reaching moments of disappointment by behaving predictably disappointingly.
Although Allen's field of poorly adjusted people may be interesting to watch run around for a while, they shed little new light on an already well-expressed cynical point of view.
(Released by Sony Pictures Classics and rated "R" for language.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.