Don’t we all hope to meet a tall, dark stranger who will woo us and sweep us off our feet? When Woody Allen tells you that though, don’t get carried away unless you are a dire fan of the eccentric little man.
If you are then you will know to expect characters amplified to diabolical levels of ‘quirky’. The lead endorser of the aforementioned in this movie being Gemma Jones. Her portrayal of an elderly lady abandoned by her husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) after 40 years is hilarious. When her daughter (Naomi Watts) hires a phony fortuneteller who gives her soothing illusions, she starts believing in past lives and a bright future. That, paired with her endless consumption of alcohol, makes her a borderline lunatic who entirely steals the show.
In the meantime the daughter has her own marital issues with a husband Roy (Josh Brolin) who can’t accept that ‘he’s a one book wonder’. This drives her to fall for her charming boss (Antonio Banderas), while the husband is busy romancing the ‘girl in red’ (Freida Pinto), who gives him a clear view of her night time rituals through the opposite window. Frieda has zero body language and an immobile face which is highlighted even more in the talent of her co-stars.
Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) learns that it’s tough to live like a 30-yr old if you aren’t one and even tougher to live with one. Case in point his new wife, Charmaine. Lucy Punch works the over the top blonde to comedic perfection.
As the complex relations get even more complex and the characters more exaggerated the movie seems to be going no where. While the trademark background score and abrupt change of scenes keep you from boredom, the lack of humor makes your attention sway. The focus is more on the characters and Allen hits the nail on the head with the personalities, managing to make caricatures out of them.
The potential is all there but the passion gets lost in translation. It does make you ponder on the irony and fragility of life. Hope is what keeps the world going and sometimes surreal beliefs make the tragedies in life more bearable. In the end as the loons land up happier than the sane, the smile can’t help but escape your lips.
If you are a fan of the genre it’s worth a watch for the sake of loyalty.