YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
Illusions of Happiness
Release Date: September 22, 2010
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 98 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Woody Allen
Executive Producer: Javier Méndez
Writer: Woody Allen
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
The movie opens and closes with Leon Redbone singing, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” As the song fades into the background, an unseen narrator introduces the story by mentioning Shakespeare’s line from MACBETH, where a distraught Macbeth rails at his wife’s deathbed that life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
The story itself follows a pair of married couples, one older and one younger.
Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) has just left his wife of 40 years, Helena (Gemma Jones). To comfort her suicidal mother, their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) has suggested Helena consult a spiritualist medium. Although Sally knows the fortune teller is a fake, she reasons that maybe the woman will tell her mother the things she wants to hear, unlike all the psychiatrists and medications Helena has tried for her depression.
While Helena surrenders her life to the fortune teller, her husband Alfie pursues his lost youth with a call girl whom he thinks he can save by showering her with gifts and marrying her. Meanwhile, Sally’s husband, Roy (Josh Brolin), doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere with his latest novel. While trying to get over his writer’s block, Roy becomes moonstruck over a beautiful mystery woman (Freida Pinto), who catches his gaze through a nearby window. At the same time, Sally develops a crush on her handsome new boss, an art gallery owner played by Antonio Banderas.
All of the main characters except Helena learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. As their stories come to a painful, ironic end, the unseen narrator suggests that Helena’s illusions and faith in her fortune teller has led to more happiness for her than all the half-baked, deluded secular plans of her broken family. In fact, Helena’s belief in her fortune teller ultimately undoes the plans of the others.
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is very funny, full of lots of wry, clever, enjoyable humor. There’s only one really laugh-out-loud moment, however. Also, the movie’s worldview is a cynical humanist one, even though it argues at the end that Helena’s occult illusions at least bring her happiness. Finally, the movie contains some strong foul language and characters acting immorally.
Since the movie’s occult content is not resolved positively in a biblical manner, and the movie’s humanist worldview is somewhat cynical and probably elitist, MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend this latest effort from Woody Allen. At least, however, it’s not as stridently humanist, self-righteous and Anti-Christian as his last movie.
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is very funny, full of lots of wry, clever, enjoyable humor. There’s only one really laugh-out-loud moment, however. Also, the movie’s worldview is a cynical humanist one, even though it argues at the end that Helena’s occult illusions at least bring her happiness. Finally, the movie contains some strong foul language and characters acting immorally. Ultimately, its cynicism and occult presentation make it unsuitable for media-wise viewing.