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Movie Review: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (English) 117

A bunch of dissatisfied characters exploring new relationships; does that sum-up this flick? Yes, as is the case with most other Woody Allen films. But then, does it work? Nah, not this time around, at least. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger lacks the wit that marks his work. If ‘Annie Hall’ is his gold-standard, this one is way too mediocre.

Helena (Gemma Jones) is dumped by her rich husband of forty years Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) who’s seems to have forgotten that he’s aging too and chases a young gold digging hooker Charmaine (Lucy Punch). While Helena seeks solace in the words of a phony fortune teller recommended by his daughter Sally (Naomi Watts).

Sally, an art major is stuck in a bad marriage with Roy (Josh Brolin) and falls for her employer Greg (Antonio Banderas) who’s hitting on her protégé Iris (Anna Friel). Roy, a former doctor and one-book wonder with a writer’s block starts to take an interest in neighbor Dia (Freida Pinto), a musicologist who’s already engaged.

Going by the trend of his recent films being based in Europe, this entrée is set in London. But, barring the accents of its British cast, black Taxicabs and Shakespeare quotes in the familiar Woody Allen narrative, there is little else to tell it apart from his regular New York based films with the big-city-n-lost-souls theme.

The stellar cast is let down by a bad script and half-hearted directorial effort. No wonder Anthony Hopkins and Josh Brolin merely sleep-walk through it. Still, Antonio Banderas in his brief role and Lucy Punch do sparkle. Freida Pinto had little else to do other than to eternally dress up in red and keep her obsession in the West alive.

Where it falters critically is when it merely skims the surface rather than engage the audience to take an interest in its characters. Lacking the drama that is normally expected of this genre, it ends up being a mélange of affairs. In the end, you don’t really care as to what happens to whom! This ‘stranger’ is quite forgettable!

Rating 5/10: Not the best of Woody Allen; passable at best!
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