"Illusions of Happiness"
The Woody Allen comedy, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, is full of comic irony. The humanist view that Woody expresses in this particular movie is quite cynical, but in a lighthearted, provocative manner. Regrettably, however, it surrenders to occult “illusions” in an ironic, cynical way.
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.
(HHH, OOO, B, LLL, V, SS, N, A, D, M) Very strong, cynical humanist worldview with very strong occult content throughout (including a séance meant to conjure a man’s dead wife) involving a spiritualist medium giving fortune telling predictions to a despondent older woman, all of which ultimately says that having “illusions” (including occult or perhaps even religious ones) may be the best way (or at least an okay way) to handle the harsh realities of life and find happiness, with a light positive moral message showing that the grass is not greener on the other side; about 13 obscenities (including a few “f” words), 10 strong profanities and nine light profanities; mention of suicide attempts and a fatal car accident, and senior citizen gets punched and hurts his back when he falls, plus men visit friend in a coma; strong themes of sexual immorality includes man divorces wife of 40 years and sees a prostitute, older man marries young greedy prostitute, man walks in on wife and gym employee, and other people also pursue adulterous affairs; upper male nudity and some female cleavage; alcohol use; smoking; and, breaking and entering, writer steals manuscript from friend he thinks has died and publishes it as his own but he’s on the verge of being discovered as movie ends, woman gets very angry at her mother when mother changes her mind and decides not to finance the art gallery daughter wants, lying.
Woody Allen’s comedy, YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, is full of comic irony. The story follows two married couples. Alfie, looking to pursue his lost youth, divorces his wife of 40 years to marry a call girl and shower her with gifts. His wife, Helena, finds solace and happiness by consulting a fortune teller, who’s obviously a charlatan. Meanwhile, their artistic daughter, Sally, and her husband, Roy, a writer, get caught up pursuing their own flings. Everyone but Helena learns that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. An unseen narrator concludes that maybe having “illusions,” including false ones, are the best way to handle the harsh realities of life and find happiness.
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.