The problem with Match Point is that I can't think of any angle to approach the film that doesn't necessarily involve discussing the final act, and it would do a pronounced disservice to the film for me to spoil it. The problem is that it leaves me unable to say anything but generalities. There's been a lot of grousing about how every review begins and ends with "Woody Allen's best film in 15 years," but it's really hard to say anything more concrete than that.

(And for what it's worth, I disagree: it's his best film in almost twenty years, since Hannah and Her Sisters. I honestly feel that the new film is a more interesting morality play than Crimes and Misdemeanors, although it lacks the earlier film's undeniably brilliant twined comedy/tragedy plotlines).

In a nutshell: Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a tennis pro, who falls in with the son (Matthew Goode) of a wealthy family. He ends up marrying the daughter (Emily Mortimer) of same family, while lusting after his new brother-in-law's fiancée (Scarlett Johansson). Complications ensue.

It's a common observation by now that the film is unlike any Allen film before it. Yeah, I guess, in that it belongs to the genre of romantic thriller, totally alien territory for the director, and he certainly nails it down (best non-Hitchcock Hitchcock film I've seen in years). But I never had a problem identifying all of his fingerprints: for one thing, it looks like a Woody Allen film (that is, ugly as hell, but with some odd-yet-right camera movements). Plus, it exists in the moral and aesthetic world of almost all of his post-Annie Hall work (sample line: "Darling, have you seen my Strindberg?" Although there is one nice little moment when a character sets down a copy of Crime and Punishment in favor of a Dostoevsky reader's guide). Only the lack of a nebbish hero and the London setting (which adds far more than just a veneer, and I can't imagine this story working in the nearly so well as it works amongst the aristocracy) separate it from the rest of his canon.

Without giving away too much, the film returns to the moral cloudiness of Crimes and Misdemeanors - specifically, ought one to be good if one can just as easily, and without detection, be evil? The characters are all rotters, lying for money, career and lust. And to a man, they are all wantonly materialistic. Those who have seen the earlier film - or really, any Allen film - can probably answer the question (yes, and you don't even have to feel too guilty about it!), but how the film gets there is surprising and satisfying.

The actors are all good, but all unexceptional, although in most cases - especially Johansson's - this is because their characters are deliberately left as ciphers. The secondary theme of the film ("luck is arbitrary") is hammered a little too hard, but by and large I accept it, and it's not like subtlety has ever really been Allen's greatest strength. Besides, this is a melodrama at heart, as made clear by the wall-to-wall operatic soundtrack.

Which reminds me of something. After the screening, one of my companions asked how it felt to personally be the entirety of a film's target audience. Pretty damn good, actually.