I enjoy his big epics like Vicky Cristina Barcelona or Match Point much less than his smaller, relationship-based films or quirky ones like Curse of the Jade Scorpion. But he makes so many of the relationship-based that you sort of forget about them, and quickly. And it’s not because “we’ve seen it all before” or “they’re just about him”. It’s like Sunday brunch. Sometimes the food was forgettable, but you still liked it, it made you full, you took a nap, it was fulfilling.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is just that. I don’t have that much to say, other than it was pretty great to see Anthony Hopkins in a Woody Allen, not playing Woody, which some may assume because Anthony Hopkins and Woody Allen are both old. Not so.
Helena (Gemma Jones) is an old lady whose husband, Alfie (Hopkins), decides one night in a fit of insomnia, in the quiet dark of the night, that he’s old and doesn’t want to be married anymore and all that stuff that happens when you get saggy skin. He makes a hasty decision and dump-vorces his wife.
Meanwhile, their only child Sally (Naomi Watts) is married to an insecure loser-writer-slacker, Roy (Josh Brolin), who has taken his days playing Peeping Tom into Dia’s (Freida Pinto) flat across the way instead of working on his novel. Dia plays the guitar and is that stereotypical “different skinned intellectual beauty who always wears red.” Josh Brolin plays unlikable so convincingly, I’m starting to actually like him. Antonio Banderas is Greg, Naomi Watts’ art gallery boss in a bad relationship. This is a good role for Banderas because he’s not playing his normal dancer/killer/Latin lover.
Alfie up and marries Charmaine, an actress/prostitute, a money grubbing whore and a weird looking Gigantor of a woman. Lucy Punch is probably one of the weirdest looking actresses I’ve seen in awhile. But she’s so annoying fun to wince at. There’s lots of Viagra jokes.
All of the film revolves around these characters talking to each other and one another, and a narrator (Zak Orth) talking to the audience.
“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” is a phrase used by a fake psychic (Pauline Collins) Gemma Jones sees every couple of days. We will all meet a tall dark stranger in our future.
Allen is contemplating on aging, making changes, taking plunges, mysterious unknowns and “what-ifs” with this one. Sally and Greg have an incredible scene in which Sally goes out on a limb and asks him “what if?”. Helena finds a man, Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) also interested in the occult but is still in love with his dead wife, and chooses the “what if” of him over reconciling with Alfie.
It’s a shrug your shoulder kind of movie. Do you wanna see the new Woody Allen? Shrug of shoulders. “Sure. If I’ve got nothing better to do.”