110 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2010
This is like a Zen version of an Eric Rohmer film. After seeing YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, it's obvious why Woody Allen is much more highly regarded--and respected-in France than the U.S. The French appreciate films about relationships--especially Rohmer's films about relationships, such as MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, CLAIRE'S KNEE, SUMMER, PAULINE AT THE BEACH, BOYFRIENDS AND GIRLFRIENDS, AN AUTUMN TALE, etc. Like Woody's recent films--especially MATCH POINT and VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA--YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER follows in the same footsteps. The common denominator amongst those films is FATE or PREDESTINATION. Woody seems to be saying that no matter what we do, things will work out in their own way. He is getting much more Zen-like in his golden years. Although YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER wasn't as funny like MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY, ANNIE HALL or PLAY IT AGAIN SAM nor was it as deep like CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, or MANHATTAN--it is still a worthwhile film to see. Especially for Woody Allen fans. And the French.
47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2010
An odd film for Allen, neither an overt comedy or one of his dark serious films (e.g. `Crimes and Misdemeanors'). This is a `light' drama, something he hasn't done much. While not Allen's best work, I felt far more warmly towards it than most of the press, especially on 2nd viewing. Some of the criticisms are valid; the voice over narration is out of tone with the piece and at times tells us too literally what we already know. Yet, in the current American cinema, how many film-makers are getting to even and try and address the complex subtle questions of grown-up relationships, aging and the fear of death, and the lies we tell ourselves to get through it all? Or deal with the paradox that humans seem to need something to believe in, and yet that same belief can also lead us astray? Or give great older actors like Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones really meaty roles? As long as Allen keeps asking questions, he'll remain a voice worth listening to.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I found some of the comments that "Tall Dark Stranger" was about 'absolutely nothing' ironic, because the voiceover at the beginning of the film, quoting "Macbeth," informs viewers exactly of what they are going to see: a story "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!"
As usual, Allen has assembled an outstanding cast, including Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas. Jones is especially endearing as Hopkins' neurotic ex-wife and the mother of the equally neurotic Watts. Josh Brolin plays Watts's rather obnoxious husband, who is attracted to Freida Pinto, charming as the lady in red, who inhabits the window of his dreams in the flat across the courtyard. Lucy Punch is convincingly downmarket as Hopkins' enticing squeeze, and Banderas plays Watts's plausible (if dodgy) boss with panache. Allen emphasises the hopes and aspirations of his characters effectively with his lush but intimate musical score, which includes pop, jazz, opera, chamber (Mozart) and classical guitar (Boccherini). The scrumptious London settings provide a perfect background for his characters, and make the film a very enjoyable place for the viewer to while away a couple of hours.
One of the things I love about Woody Allen's films is their unpredictability. Even though they hold recurrent themes, no two are exactly alike. They always contain surprises that delight, if one accepts them on their own terms. "Tall Dark Stranger" is a celebration of life in all its randomness and unpredictability. It is about the grass always seeming greener elsewhere; about possibility; about hope, that last spirit remaining in Pandora's box. In other words, it is about each one of us living our separate lives, which sometimes touch one another, and then, unexpectedly, move off in random directions.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2011
The new comedy from Woody Allen. Story about a family who is falling apart...Husband (Hopkins) leaves his wife of 40 years...and that's just the beginning. The subject matter doesn't seem funny, but it works as a comedy, Woody Allen has a way of doing that. Husband leaves his wife, who is seeing a psychic, for a woman half his age, daughter has crush on her boss, her husband has crush on the neighbor. I've never been a Woody Allen fan, I have only really liked a few of his movies. This one was not that bad. It was very entertaining and enjoyable, but not one of my favorites. If you like Woody Allen I'm sure you will really enjoy this. If you are like me and are not a huge fan, this is still very watchable and a pretty good time. The cast is excellent and it's worth watching for that. I give it a B.
Would I watch again? - Most likely not.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2011
It's somehow strangely hypnotic, maybe it's the combination of great, intense actors--Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins...and the supporting cast. Or maybe its the mix of dark hopelessness and jokes about the same subject matter.
Other people are saying it's like a lot of his others, but to me this one is different. In other movies--like Crimes and Misdemeanors, the comedy was relief from the intensity...but in this movie, the humor comes from the darkness of it.
I loved it, even though Woody pisses me off with his judgementalism of anything beyond scientific understanding.
And the movie just suddenly ends...out of nowhere, and I really wanted some more. But Woody does it his way, and I'm ultimately glad he does.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
The Wood Man's treatise on an old adage that goes like this: "The more b.s. you believe in, the better off you are."
As for the title, there are essentially two tall dark strangers flitting about in this film. One of them takes the form of the specter of death, the same specter whose people's fear of keeps them in a state of hysteria. Being in this state, of course, allows them to avoid focusing on the unknown (whatever is waiting for them after death), and drives them to desperation, where they commit all sorts of crazy acts (in this film: infidelities, excessive drinking, avoiding acting one's age, visiting psychics, stealing other people's intellectual property, and other types of avoidance behavior).
The other tall dark stranger takes the form of b.s. predictions of the future ("you will meet a tall dark stranger") fed to one of the lead characters by a well-paid phony psychic, predictions that the character swallows whole, phony predictions that nevertheless have an uplifting, empowering effect on the character. All of the main characters in this film are running from the specter of death in some way or another, but it's the character that visits with the psychic who is the only one with a life line of sorts. The psychic predictions that the character wholeheartedly believes in delude her; but they keep her propped up, and in some small ways allow her to move forward. (To reiterate, the more b.s. you believe in, the better off you are.)
So, then, the tall dark stranger is both something that the characters run from (the specter of death) and, in the case of one of the characters, a diversion from the something that they run from (a phony psychic's predictions of the future).
And what both of these tall dark strangers have in common is that they prevent us from facing life in a more head-on fashion. They prevent us from living calmer lives. More rational lives. Lives that could be lived with more gratitude and perhaps with more kindness and understanding.
This film will go down in Wood Man history as one of his most underrated films. This film is every bit as good as the next entry in his body of work, the mega-blockbuster "Midnight in Paris."
In an attempt to explain the overwhelming popularity of that film, Owen Wilson, the star of that film, has hypothesized that it had just as much or more to do with the title of the film, Midnight in Paris, than with anything else.
Tall Dark Stranger, in my mind, is every bit as entertaining and funny and profound and well-acted and well-filmed and well-lit and well-edited as Midnight In Paris.
And what a cast! In addition to some terrific actors that we are familiar with in the U.S., including Josh Brolin and Anthony Hopkins and Naomi Watts, there are a number of not-so-well-known British actors that give some very fine performances, including Gemma Jones and the hilarious Lucy Punch.
Why this film did not do better critically or commercially is a mystery to me.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
Short Attention Span Summary:
1. There are several characters that intersect in various ways and make choices. Some good, some bad.
2. One character is an older man who divorces his wife (of many years) and takes up with a tart (who later gets pregnant with someone else's child-- after taking this old fool's money).
3. Another character is a struggling writer whose work is rejected. He steals the manuscript of a friend that he thought was dead, only to find out that the friend wasn't really dead.
4. Still another character becomes beholden to a psychic for advice on every single one of life's moves.
5. One character wants to open up a business (but can't succeed) and wants to lean on her mother for financing.
A lot of people missed the point of this movie, and it is this (and as much is said in the film): Not all decisions in life will go for the best. And in that way, this is not like typical movies. But it is very much like real life. There's not a lot of profanity/ copulation, but there is a humorously-made point.
This movie is worth an evening ticket price.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2011
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is Woody Allen light.
I know it's supposed to be a comedy. At least, the tone of the film starts out in that direction, but aside from a few mild chuckles along the way, the movie isn't really very funny.
The actors are all excellent. Allen's direction is fine and several of the multiple character story lines certainly have laugh-out-loud potential. But, sadly, the guffaws never come.
As is often the case in Woody's movies, the characters in this picture are seeking happiness on the other side of the fence, but when they get there, they find that the grass is not as green as they thought.
Filmed in London, the movie features Anthony Hopkins as a successful businessman who leaves his wife (Gemma Jones) of forty years and, eventually, winds up marrying a hooker (Lucy Punch). Jones, in the meantime, falls under the influence of a phony fortune-teller (Pauline Collins), who convinces her that she has lived before, probably in Elizabethan times.
Both of these situations contain tremendous comic possibilities, yet for some reason, Woody didn't pursue them, or if he did, the humor doesn't come off.
Hopkins and Jones have a daughter (Naomi Watts), married to struggling writer Josh Brolin. Their relationship is also in trouble, with Brolin fawning over the beautiful woman (Freida Pinto) in the apartment across the way and Naomi falling in love with her married, philandering boss (Antonio Banderas).
Not wanting to be a Spoiler, I won't be specific, but I wonder if this film might have worked better if some of the more interesting events that occur in the "third act" had taken place earlier in the movie. That would have definitely raised "the stakes," and allowed us (i.e. the audience) to become more involved with the characters.
Despite these flaws, I remain a Woody Allen fan and look forward to seeing his next film.
© Michel B. Druxman
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2011
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, the latest Woody Allen's film is light, airy, lacy, elegant, sad, bittersweet and tender, just like a Boccherini musical piece for guitar that a beautiful young woman was playing sitting next to the window in a London apartment/flat. It is also funny, sharp, mocks the absurdity of existence, and manages to highlight the insignificance and callousness of the characters yet not to judge them while letting them search for "bell' alma inamorata", and are not we all searching? Allen is still the master of his craft, the creator of charming dra-medies. His favorite and constant themes of lives and deaths of the relationships, of growing older and refusing to accept it, of trying to postpone the inevitable meeting with a "tall dark stranger", of struggle to find the reason in a tale, "full of sound and fury", are all here. But he knows how to look at the familiar material from the unusual angle by mixing masterfully humor and seriousness, light touch and insight in the right proportions to explore the desires, longings, and motivations of the characters. One of the themes Allen was interested while working on the Tall Dark Stranger was faith in something because it is for humans to prefer the power of self-delusions over the darkness of bitter truths. He said: "This sounds so bleak when I say it, but we need some delusions to keep us going. And the people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can't." Sounds too serious but it is Allen's film, and is ironic, witty, and light. I ask myself why I love Allen's films so much and always wait for them impatiently. One of the reasons, he makes them for adults and about adults. His target audiences want to see a clever intelligent film without being manipulated or spoon fed. I admire Allen for respecting his viewers: "I never write down to them. I always assume that they're all as smart as I am . . . if not smarter". Or, more likely, I love his films because the beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and my eyes are always open to the beauty of his films. They are so perfectly constructed and framed. They look and sound terrific. While watching them, I don't understand how can they not be liked and admired by everyone? His short films are not small to me. I need them and I always will.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Woody Allen frequently seems to take his cues from music in molding a story. This time, in YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER he admixes frustrated relationships with lust and a dollop of 'ppychic readings' and comes up with a fun if uneven little film. As usual he surrounds himself with a fine cast of actors who are able to make the most out of Allen's outline for a microscopic examination of human behavior.
Helena Shebritch (Gemma Jones) is consulting 'clairvoyant' Cristal (Pauline Collins) regarding the request for divorce from her gadabout husband Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) who is courting a hooker named Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Helena and Alfie's daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) is disgusted with both her parents and is in the midst of coping with her MD educated turned writer's block novelist husband Roy (Josh Brolin). Fed up with their static life Sally seeks and gains employment with art gallerist Greg (Antonio Banderas), and in her need for attention falls in lust with him, despite the fact that he is married and seemingly unavailable until she discovers Greg is having an affair with gallery artist Iris (Anna Friel). Roy spends his days gazing at guitarist Dia (Freida Pinto) who lives across the way in the next apartment. Roy serendipitously comes on a novel (by a comatose friend) he can 'sell' and with his self worth strengthened he courts Dia who is in an arranged marriage contract. Inappropriate Cristal is the one who oversees all of the derring-do with miscalculated predictions - except for Helena who meets widower Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) in a séance oriented lifestyle. By story's end it seems that perhaps Helena will be the only one successful in her 'wish upon a star'.
This may not be one of Woody Allen's best films but it does pose many questions about relationships today and as usual, he has a fine cast to entertain us. If you like Woody Allen, you'll likely enjoy this outing. Grady Harp, March 11