Movie Mom

Movie Mom

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some language
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situations, prostitution, Viagra
Alcohol/Drugs:Social drinking, character abuses alcohol, tipsy character drives
Violence/Scariness:Tense and unhappy confrontations
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:October 8, 2010
DVD Release Date:February 15, 2011
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some language
Profanity: Some strong language
Nudity/Sex: Sexual references and situations, prostitution, Viagra
Alcohol/Drugs: Social drinking, character abuses alcohol, tipsy character drives
Violence/Scariness: Tense and unhappy confrontations
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Movie Release Date: October 8, 2010
DVD Release Date: February 15, 2011

Unpleasant people behave selfishly until it stops, rather than ends, in this latest trifle from Woody Allen, who once again manages to persuade A-list talent to help him make a C-list movie.

It’s another romantic roundelay, with a divorced couple and their unhappily married daughter making a dreary series of bad romantic choices. Anthony Hopkins plays Alfie, a wealthy man who leaves his wife of 40 years because she makes him feel old, and marries a prostitute he’s known for two months (Lucy Punch). The ex-wife, Helena (Gemma Jones), comforts herself by consulting with a cheerful psychic (Pauline Collins) and dropping in uninvited on her unhappy daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts), and her unhappier husband, Roy (Josh Brolin). Roy has struggled to fulfill the promise of his first novel. After a series of failures, he is desperately hoping his latest manuscript will be accepted by the publisher. And he is also hoping to find a way to meet the beautiful neighbor (Freda Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”) he spies on through her window. Sally is smitten with her boss (Antonio Banderas).


The movie has little energy and less sense of purpose.  The story is inert and so are the characters.  Every one of them is monumentally self-absorbed and not one of them is meaningfully different at the end of the movie than he or she is at the beginning.  Or if they are, we don’t know as we have long since lost interest in anything other than seeing some of the finest actors in the English-speaking world struggle to make something out of these underwritten roles.

  • Alicia

    This makes me sad, Nell. Every time a new Woody Allen movie is announced, I still experience a momentary thrill of anticipation. Then I come back down to earth, and remember that he’s hardly made a good movie in the past 15 or so years. “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” was the last one I half-way liked, though “Scoop” was a pleasant trifle, I thought “Match Point” was an inferior retread of the theme of one of his best films, “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
    My feeling about Allen is that he has become a hack, because he surrendered his integrity, and has painted himself into a philosophical corner. Yet I keep hoping that he will make another great (or even good) movie.

  • Nell Minow

    I agree, Alicia. I think what has happened is that Woody Allen enjoys making movies more than he cares about the quality of the end product. And as we see over and over, the top actors of the world will work for him for almost no money and with almost no script, which keeps the cost so low that he can keep making them indefinitely this way. If he does make another good movie, it will be almost by accident.

  • Alicia

    Perhaps we can hope for a lucky accident, then :-)

  • Christian Toto

    What’s most depressing about ‘Stranger’ is the story is rife with comic possibilities, and I didn’t laugh once.
    Everything in the comments above is spot on. And Woody-philes were so eager for a comeback they overpraised “Match Point.”

  • Nell Minow

    Exactly right, Christian. I believe Allen likes making movies but no longer cares whether they are any good.

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