Woody Allen's "Stranger" almost back to form
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch
Once per year, like clockwork, Woody Allen puts down the clarinet, gives away the Knicks tickets and comes out with a movie that resumes his career long rendering of the intelligentsia’s foibles.
While the New York icon has found renewed inspiration in Western Europe, few of his recent movies that have taken place there boast the literate, angst-inflected writing that highlight his best Manhattan-set work. Put another way, things have gotten stale.
Though the Woodman is not quite back to his old self in the London set “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” his latest does represent a good step after the nadir of “Whatever Works.”
With entertainingly busy, interlocking subplots, a characteristically skeptical view of the universe and a wealth of distinguished actors, “Stranger” earns its spot in the Allen pantheon.
Life, the narrator reminds us Shakespeare wrote, is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” This film exemplifies that notion in its depiction of characters selfishly guided by their guttural instincts rather than their good sense.
These individuals include struggling author Roy (Josh Brolin), his unhappy wife Sally (Naomi Watts), her superstitious mother (Gemma Jones) and Sally’s late life-crisis suffering father Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), who abandons his wife for a prostitute named Charmaine (Lucy Punch).
While the movie certainly “signifies nothing,” it offers a healthy dose of truthful interactions.
It’s the closest Allen has recently come to the insightful depictions of the human condition that once were his forte.