I’ll be completely honest. I haven’t seen many Woody Allen films. There are only two off the top of my head that I can recall ever viewing. His movies have never interested me and come off as cheesy. Now, I know 'Annie Hall' is the big one from good old Woody, but will you believe me if I said I didn’t see that movie until about 6 years ago? Yeah, I know I’m late, but like I said his movies just don’t appeal to me. The next thing fans are probably asking is if I’m the right guy to review this movie. Maybe not from a fan's perspective. But for others who are also new to a Woody Allen film I'm the best choice.
‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ gained my interest for one reason and one reason only. But I will get to that later. I will admit however, I’m impressed with the cast assembled here. Looking at the cover or movie poster is a slight turn-off and weirdly appealing at the same time. I’m not sure if that quite makes sense, but it does for me. After being a movie buff or couch potato my entire life, I think it’s finally time I give Woody Allen another try.
We have Sally (Naomi Watts) and Roy Channing (Josh Brolin), a married couple who want different things in life. Sally wants her own store while Roy writes hoping his books will get published. Roy, while sitting in his room, notices a new neighbor has moved in across the street. The lady from the window, named Dia (Freida Pinto), happens to be engaged to Alan (Neil Jackson). Sally decides to obtain a job at a local bookstore and gains a huge crush on her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas). Meanwhile, her best friend Iris (Anna Friel) is having a secret crush that catches Sally totally off guard. Sally’s parents have recently split up as well. Her mother Helena Shebritch (Gemma Jones) seeks advice from a fortune teller and believes she has a step ahead of everyone in life. Her father Alfie Shebritch (Anthony Hopkins), recently married to a young actress half his age, is very skeptical if he has married the right woman whose lifestyle is the complete opposite of his own.
‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ will have turn, after turn, after turn. New relationships develop, while old ones end rapidly. At first, it seems each relationship is all for themselves, but eventually each person has a connection with another. A few of the relationships you can’t but help to cheer for while a few odd ones made me laugh. One in particular made me extremely jealous and just didn’t see them pairing up, but the role of each really seemed possible.
Anthony Hopkins' performance is pure and solid. He shows many different emotions, and you tend to have his back when things don’t go his way. You already know how his marriage will unfold when he’s with someone half his age, but Hopkins really carries out his relationship keeping you glued to the set. Josh Brolin (he will always be known as Brand to me) is cogent with the role of a writer and finding lust from a recent addition to the neighborhood. The role of Roy was done justice by Brolin although I just couldn’t see him actually pulling someone as beautiful as Freida Pinto -- the reason why I had interest in the movie to begin with. Pinto is finally given a chance to perform in a bigger role after her ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ debut. I still don’t feel she’s where she needs to be, but her potential of growing to a fine actress I believe is coming in the near future.
Gemma Jones does a fine job for her role as Helena even though I thought her character was annoying. All her statements about her fortune teller and believing everything she said 100% down to the core made me want to jump at the TV and slap some sense into her. I’ve never been able to understand why people believe in that sort of stuff. Don’t they remember how Miss Cleo ripped everyone off?
The movie has good humor and several twists that unfold as the movie progresses. The narration was actually annoying though, but it goes away after half an hour and rarely comes back. Woody does a fine job finding the cast for his new film. Even though I didn’t like everyone, I feel I can’t complain much because the movie worked. Finding a counter attack against Naomi might have been a hard task, but with the beautiful Freida Pinto opposite her, she is the right fit for the role. It’s very believable and gives the movie the credit it fully deserves.
Presented in full 1080P with an AVC encode and framed at 1.78:1. ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ comes to Blu-ray looking pretty decent. I didn’t think it was a great transfer and also one to not complain about. Grain was constant throughout the entire film but very casual. Colors are dynamic including reds which are the only color I recall Freida in. Blacks and contrast were quite accurate with the majority of the movie taking place in bright scenes and during daylight shots. Clarity is a high attribute for the video except for background props. Objects in the background never had much detail and sometimes I couldn’t figure out what they were. Skin tones were precise excluding the heavy makeup on a few actors/actress. Facial detail was the main flaw and is highly patent.
Being shot in England the movie has a great vibe about it. The cars and signs made me not feel this movie was shot in the US at all. From clothing to restaurants the English atmosphere was given a distinctive look that made the movie have its own feel to it.
With an English DTS-HD MA 1.0 sound mix, I was surprised how fair the audio turned out. I honestly thought it would be crap, but for the genre of the film it’s not bad at all. Dialogue is fine and clear even with the British accents of most characters. Front speakers do the majority of the work giving rear channels somewhat of a hissing sound on a few occasions. A club scene with Hopkins was the only time I remember LFE receiving any usage. Now I’ll admit the audio is not stellar but for a driven dialogue movie, there really isn’t much needed. I honestly didn’t expect an audio track for an action type film so 1.0 sound mix works for the film.
I was shocked that I enjoyed this movie. Fans of Woody, I can say this is a safe buy. If you’re not familiar with his films I recommend a rent first as I can see a few of my peers rejecting this type of movie not giving it a full chance. Hopkins, Watts and Brolin give a solid performance as usual fulfilling my expectations. Pinto does fairly well but still needs time to grow. I notice the growth from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ as I’m rooting for her to not just be another pretty face on screen. Not much extras are provided but overall it was a good disc.