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You Will Meet a Mediocre Review: Allen's film falls short

 

Woody Allen's highly anticipated film You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger met less-than rave reviews following Saturday night's premiere screening. Exit polls from Saturday morning's press screening yielded positive reviews from audience members, thoughthe critics were hardly blown away by Allen's film. 

Impossible to avoid comparisons with Allen's most recent film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which garnered a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Penelope Cruz, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger failed to charm audiences on the same level.

 

Despite a talent-rich cast, (Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto,) critics found it difficult to pinpoint a character for the audience to emotionally invest in. Although the acting is described as impeccable, Film.com went as far as to describe the characters as "imbeciles." More like puppets than multifaceted, independent thinkers, Allen's characters make irrational decisions one after another, acting abruptly without any lucid thoughts of their own, said the Hollywood Reporter. Unlike in Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and her Sisters, critics found the characters' emotions difficult to understand and undeveloped in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.

Film.com noted the enchanting moments of smart, wry humor throughout the film, mostly resulting from awkward situations into which Allen forces his characters. Despite this, however, critics struggled to find a character worth rooting for amongst the ensemble. Film.com explained: "To root for these clueless folk is a bridge too far for even the most empathetic audience member."

Variety applauded Vilmos Zsigmond’s filmography, calling it lovely and effective, yet the "curdled blend of cynicism and superiority" leaves a sour taste in the audience's mouth. 

 

Allen's film focuses on people searching for greener pastures, hoping to fulfill needs and satisfy romantic dreams. Unfortunately, critics said, Allen's cynicism comes up short on charm, as his characters chase illusions rather than reality to no avail. The movie ends abruptly, just as the characters' lives are in the throes of complexity, further highlighting Allen's classically preferred theme of the pointlessness of human existence. In the end all of the characters seem just as disoriented and unsatisfied as they were in the beginning. Even with flawless acting, an all-star cast couldn't save the day for this film.

Sorry, Woody. You can't win 'em all. 

Lauren Ellison 

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