You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

In this, Woody Allen's latest outing, we hop on a marriage-go-round for two couples which falters when four monkey wrenches are thrown into the works. Woody has taken to shooting many of his films in Europe ("Match Point" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"), this time it's London. I was happy to see he used cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who is worth every penny!

First our two couples:
  • Anthony Hopkins ("Fracture") has been married long enough that he is starting to feel the itch for a second youth. To that end, our wealthy fellow gets a divorce, buys a sports car and starts chasing young women (augmented by generous doses of Viagra).
  • Gemma Jones ("Harry Potter") is the discarded wife. She has been married the same number of years, but is devastated and starts going to a "seer," a charlatan who realizes that she has struck the mother lode.
  • Naomi Watts ("The International") is their daughter, married and wanting a child but forced to work in an art gallery for a very appealing boss.
  • Josh Brolin ("Jonah Hex") is her husband, a one-trick pony: a doctor who refuses to practice medicine because he wrote a best seller; he is trying to catch lightening in a bottle a second time. I should note that Mr. B. plays a real husband, not some sculpted Adonis with a six-pack. Kudos for his courage!
Now the monkey wrenches (it's the UK, so they are called "spanners"):
  • Judy Punch ("Dinner for Schmucks") is the hooker with the heart of lead who captures our hero in the midst of his mid-life crisis. Her name is Charlaine but the angry daughter calls her Chow Mein!
  • Freida Pinto ("Slumdog Millionaire") lives across the alley from Josh and Naomi; he can't help but notice that she rarely pulls her blinds.
  • Antonio Banderas ("The Other Man") is the dashing owner of that art gallery.
  • Pauline Collins ("From Time to Time") is the scotch-pouring money-grubbing charlatan...
Several of the cast members do a credible job of duplicating the patented Woody Allen stammer; I just wish it wasn't quite so obvious. The domestic scenes have a ring of authenticity and we enjoy long single takes, clearly an economical way to make a movie if a cast is professional enough to meet the challenge; this one is. The end credits show Woody used a very small crew compared to the armies it usually takes to make a film these days, and he adds a traditional jazz sound- track; that might be Mr. A. himself on the clarinet. The narrator Zak Orth sounds like Tom Hanks.

I found this to be a light, satisfying 98 minutes.