You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Watching a Woody Allen film is like spending a couple hours with an old friend you see every few years. You will know how the conversation will begin, and you can probably guess how the conversation will end. And you do enjoy the brief time spent.
Again, Woody Allen has created a movie where all of the characters and storylines are connected and relevant to each other.
We meet Sally Channing (Naomi Watts), who works in a gallery and could secretly be in love with her boss. Or is it the other way around? Her husband, meanwhile, has been trying to follow up his one hit book with another but can’t seem to, causing tension in their marriage. At the same time, he is becoming more than friendly with the woman whose window is across from his flat.
Sally's parents are recently divorced, and her mother, Helena (played by Gemma Jones), starts seeing a psychic to get her through the loneliness of being single again. She in turn meets a new male suitor, however, she seems to be more enamored with her psychic as her every move is determined by the psychic. Her ex-husband, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), has met and married a new, much younger woman (an ex-call girl), and it seems that to keep her interested, he buys her whatever she wants, including a luxury flat in Battersea. All he wants from her, though, is for her to give him a son, as the son he had with his ex-wife died at a young age.
The film goes back and forth between the storylines, and as each one gets deeper and more involved, we get deeper and more involved, and, like in real life, you can't guess what is going to happen next.
The whole cast is excellent. Anthony Hopkins as the man trying to relive his youth turns in his best performance in years. You feel his loneliness, his happiness, and his heartbreak; it is all in his facial emotions. His new wife is played by Lucy Punch, and wow, she steals every scene she is in! Allen tends to give the best roles to the ditzy, female sidekick/girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly in Bullets over Broadway and Mira Sorvino in Mightly Aphrodite – both Oscar winners), and this film is no exception. Punch’s innocence (is she?) and dizziness (yes) looks real. She is brilliant. Josh Brolin as the struggling book author is another standout. He is frustrated at not only himself, but also with his crazy mother-in-law, and he plans to have another hit book by any means necessary. Antonio Banderas is also part of the very strong cast as the suave, handsome and rich gallery owner who employs Sally.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is a very good film, and as with a conversation with an old friend, the time passes all too quickly.
It was 2003 and a CIA operative was exposed. Her husband, a former diplomat, was perhaps responsible. Does anyone remember this true story? Probably not.
The CIA agent in question was Valeria Plame Wilson, a covert officer in the counter-proliferation department. She discovered that Iraq had no active nuclear weapons programmes. Meanwhile, her husband, Joe Wilson, was sent to Africa by the US State Department to investigate rumours of the possible sale of enriched uranium to Iraq. Wilson discovers no sale took place, but the U.S. government disputes his findings. Soon after, his wife's undercover status is exposed by a leak to journalists by someone in the Bush Administration.* This, in turn, put many other people who aided Plame in her undercover job around the world, at risk.
Fair Game, the film of this affair, is now in theaters, with Naomi Watts as Plame and Sean Penn as Wilson. They are both very good at playing their respective characters; however, the actual story is too weak for a movie. It was a very public story in the States at that time, but now that we all know Iraq did not have uranium to make weapons, this story loses its punch, and especially after so many Iraqi movies that have been released in the past few years.
Director Doug Liman shot scenes for this film in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Kuala Lumpur, so the authenticity of the movie is there, but halfway through the movie it starts to fall flat. In the end, we learn that Plame and Wilson end up leaving Washington and move to the tranquil and beautiful city of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
So no harm done.
* In 2005 Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former adviser to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection to the leak of Plame’s name. President George W. Bush then commuted his prison sentence, so he didn't have to serve it.