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"The man who said "I'd rather be lucky than good" saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It's scary to think so much is out of one's control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn't, and you lose."—Chris Wilton
Set in London, it follows Chris Wilton (Rhys Meyers), a young Irish tennis player who takes a job working at a club for the upper class. He quickly befriends Tom Hewett (Goode), and is introduced into their family, which includes his sister Chloe (Mortimer), who quickly takes a liking to Chris. The family patriach gives Chris an entry point into the business world as his relationship with Chloe progresses, and everything looks great for Chris... until he meets Tom's fiancee Nola Rice (Johansson), a struggling American actress to whom he finds himself irresistibly attracted. Complications ensue.
A quasi-remake of Allen's own 1989 film Crimes And Misdemeanors, Match Point ended a string of creative and financial disappointments for Allen that had lasted for the better part of a decade, and ushered in a new period in his filmography, with all but one of his subsequent movies set in Europe (as opposed to his previously famous devotion to New York, New York), and using younger, sexier casts than had previously been the general rule (marking the first of three collaborations between Allen and Johansson). It was both a critical success (earning Allen his first Academy Award nomination since 1997) and a huge box office hit, with a worldwide gross of over $85 million, nearly six times its budget, and one of Allen's best-performing films ever (even adjusted for inflation).
Allen ranks the film as one of the six best of his career (he regards the vast majority of his work to be failures).
This movie provides examples of:
- Babies Ever After: for Chris and Chloe.
- Betty and Veronica: Chloe (Betty) and Nola (Veronica). A very dark take on the trope, resolved with Archie murdering Veronica.
- Broken Bird: Nola.
- The Cutie: Chloe.
- Darker and Edgier: Than most Woody Allen movies.
- Downer Ending: Chris begins an affair with Nola, getting her pregnant, and then murders her to keep things quiet. He gets away with it by pure luck.
- Dreaming the Truth: An investigating cop figures out what Chris did, but a lucky break leads to him dismissing the idea.
- Faking and Entering
- Foreshadowing: The opening speech about everything depending on luck as to whether you'll win or lose is accompanied by the shot of tennis ball hitting the net and eventually falling to desired side. This foreshadows the later moment where the old woman's ring falls to the floor instead of into the river, thus allowing an addict to pick it up and take the fall for Nola's death. Also, Nola telling Chris that her new apartment is prone to burglary.
- Gold Digger: Chris.
- Hotter and Sexier: The casting, compared to what Allen had typically used before.
- Karma Houdini
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Married couple Chloe and Chris try unsuccessfully for a baby for several months, whereas Nola gets pregnant after having unprotected sex with Chris once. Ironically, Chloe does eventually conceive, but only after Nola's death.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: the main character, who sees the world as completely amoral, and at one points admits that getting caught might actually at least demonstrate that there's some justice in the world. He isn't.
Chris: It would be fitting if I were apprehended...and punished. At least there would be some small sign of justice - some small measure of hope for the possibility of meaning.
- Of course if he really wanted that he could just turn himself in.
- The is somewhat inverted in that he actually is caught. But the cop can't prove that he did it and he is punished; however it is a Hell of his own creation.
- The Remake: The film is based on the Martin Landau plot of Crimes And Misdemeanors, Allen having in the past said that he thought that film would have been stronger had it focussed solely on Landau's character, omitting the second storyline that starred Allen himself.
- Offing the Offspring: when Chris murders Nola, he is fully aware that she's pregnant with his child. He even tries to excuse - and potentially lionize - his own actions by claiming that "to never have been born may be the greatest boon of all".
- The Perfect Crime
- Recycled in Space: Crimes And Misdemeanors without the comedy which reflects Allen's regrets for not making that movie with only Martin Landau's storyline.
- Shout-Out: Chris is seen reading Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, whose title character greatly resembles him.
- Tears of Remorse: arguably, the only thing that prevents Chris from being a Complete Monster is that he does feel some regret for his atrocious crime, and is visibly haunted by what he's done. Still, he claims that "You can learn to sweep the guilt under the rug and go on. Otherwise it overwhelms you." So he's still edging pretty close to monster territory.
- Twist Ending: Arguably Nola's death and certainly Chris getting away with his crime.
- Upperclass Twit: Tom, though more subdued than other examples of the trope.
- Villain Protagonist: Chris starts out as merely manipulative. He gets worse.
- Your Cheating Heart