You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Seemingly considered to be the 14th Woody Allen comeback before he actually made Midnight in Paris, a movie that could conceivably be considered a return to the form of, say, Alice or Shadows and Fog, YWMATDS saw the formerly great director return to London for hopefully the last time. This movie’s sacrificial lambs included those talented performers Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins, as well as Frieda Pinto and Lucy Punch, in a tale that admittedly has more bite than his recent films. Selfish intellectuals bicker and conspire to gain money or influence within the rarified world of Belgravia, their venality hidden behind a barely functional facade, before Allen springs one of his best modern finales, one that is unexpected and unusually tense, thanks mostly to the sterling work of Watts.

Sadly that moment of frisson doesn’t make up for the inclusion of prostitute Charmaine; yet another of Allen’s vile caricatures of the unsophisticated women he considers beneath him, and who must be saved from their stupidity by educated and cultured men such as himself. This is nothing new, but YWMATDS‘s greatest crime is to suddenly make the viewer see, as if scales have fallen from his or her eyes, that this patronising fetish has been around for decades. Add this to Allen’s inability to get a good performance from Pinto, or to restrain the nigh-unwatchable clowning of Punch, and this movie lays to rest the claim that Allen is a filmmaker sensitive to the inner world of the woman. He’s just the King of Mansplainers. How sad.