(NEW REVIEW) I’d say Woody Allen was trying for the mainstream with a thriller … except he refuses to indulge in the thriller formula. He takes his time, and the result has been compared to Hitchcock. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s pretty good. The theme is luck. The tennis ball hits the net and bounces. If it comes down on one side of the net you win. On the other, you lose. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Woody works a nice surprise twist on this image. A ring is tossed toward the Thames. It hits the railing and bounces up, twisting a turning, and you know a man’s life is in the balance here, it must fall into the river for him to be safe from the consequences of what he has done … and it is falling toward the sidewalk, which could mean disaster … and that’s where the twist of fate comes in.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an upwardly mobile tennis pro who meets rich boy Matthew Goode at the club, and soon is a guest at the family estate. Rich boy’s plain sister, Emily Mortimer, falls for him, but he really has eyes for rich boy’s knock-out American girlfriend, Scarlett Johannson. They make wild, passionate love in a wheat field during a storm. The rich family gives him a substantial leg up and before long he has everything he has dreamed of, and excellent prospects of more. He marries Emily and breaks up with Scarlett, but eventually starts up with her again. Emily is desperate for a child, and is having trouble conceiving one. No such problem for Scarlett, who informs poor old Jonny that she’s pregnant, intends to keep the child, and wants him to divorce Emily right now. She gets more and more demanding, coming very close to exposing the affair and ruining him. What do to, what to do? Well, there’s no real problem there that one of his father-in-law’s shotguns won’t cure …
That’s all I can say about the plot without ruining it. But it is all very well done, suspenseful, and believable. The brutality displayed here is quite unusual for a Woody Allen film, but don’t worry, there is no gore on the screen. The ending will probably remind you of Woody’s Crimes and Misdemeanors, which might give you a hint of how it all comes out in the end.