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Match Point
UK theatrical release poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Written byWoody Allen
Produced by
CinematographyRemi Adefarasin
Edited byAlisa Lepselter
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 12 May 2005 (2005-05-12) (Cannes)
  • 28 October 2005 (2005-10-28) (Luxembourg)
  • 28 December 2005 (2005-12-28) (United States)
  • 6 January 2006 (2006-01-06) (United Kingdom)
Running time
124 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom[3]
  • United States[3]
  • Luxembourg[3]
Budget$15 million
Box office$85.3 million[4]

Match Point is a 2005 psychological thriller film written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, and Penelope Wilton. In the film, Rhys Meyers' character, a former professional tennis player, marries into a wealthy family, but his social position is threatened by his affair with his brother-in-law's girlfriend, played by Scarlett Johansson. The film deals with themes of morality and greed, and explores the roles of lust, money, and luck in life, leading many to compare it to Allen's earlier film Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). It was produced and filmed in London after Allen had difficulty finding financial support for the film in New York. The agreement obliged him to make it there using a cast and crew mostly from the United Kingdom. Allen quickly re-wrote the script, which was originally set in New York, for an English setting.

Critics in the United States praised the film and its English setting, and welcomed it as a return to form for Allen. In contrast, reviewers from the United Kingdom treated Match Point less favorably, finding fault with the locations and especially the British idiom in the dialogues. Allen was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Recently retired Irish tennis professional Chris Wilton is taken on as an instructor at an upmarket club in London. There, he strikes up a friendship with wealthy pupil Tom Hewett. Tom's sister Chloe is smitten with Chris, and they begin dating. During a family gathering, Chris meets Tom's American fiancée Nola Rice, and they become attracted to each other.

Chloe persuades her father, Alec, to give Chris a job as an executive in one of his companies. After this, Chris begins to be accepted into the family.

One afternoon, Tom's mother, Eleanor, questions Nola's choice of profession. Furious, Nola leaves the house during a thunderstorm. Chris follows Nola and confesses his feelings for her, and they have sex in a wheat field. Feeling guilty, Nola treats this as an accident. Chris, however, wants an ongoing affair. Chris and Chloe marry, while Tom ends his relationship with Nola.

Chloe, to her distress, does not become pregnant immediately. Chris tries to track down Nola, but later meets her by chance at Tate Modern. He asks for her number, and they begin an affair.

While Chris spends time with his wife's family, Nola calls to inform him that she is pregnant. Panicked, he asks her to get an abortion, but she refuses, saying she wants to raise the child with him. Chris becomes distant from Chloe. She suspects Chris is having an affair, which he denies. Nola urges him to divorce his wife; he feels trapped and finds himself lying to Chloe as well as to Nola. Nola confronts him outside his apartment and he barely escapes public detection.

Soon afterwards, Chris takes a shotgun from his father-in-law's and brings it to his office in a tennis bag. After leaving the office, he calls Nola on her mobile to tell her he has good news. He goes to her building and gains entry into the apartment of her neighbor, Mrs. Eastby, whom he shoots and kills, staging a burglary by ransacking the rooms and stealing jewelry and drugs. As Nola returns, Chris shoots her in the stairwell, then takes a taxi to the theater to watch a musical with Chloe. Scotland Yard concludes the crime was likely committed by a drug addict stealing money. The following day, as the murder is in the news, Chris returns the shotgun and he and Chloe announce that she is pregnant.

Detective Mike Banner invites Chris for an interview in relation to the murder. Before he goes to see the detectives, he throws Mrs. Eastby's jewelry and drugs into the river, but by chance her ring bounces on the railing and falls to the pavement.

At the police station, Chris lies about his relationship with Nola, but Banner surprises him with her diary, in which he is featured extensively. He confesses his affair but denies any link to the murder. Chris appeals to the detectives not to involve him further in their investigation as news of the affair may end his marriage just as he and his wife are expecting a baby.

One night, Chris sees apparitions of Nola and Mrs. Eastby, who tell him to be ready for the consequences of his actions. He replies that his crimes, though wrong, were committed for a "grander scheme", and that he can suppress his guilt. The same night, Banner dreams that Chris committed the murders. The next morning, however, Banner's theory is discredited by his partner, Dowd, who reveals a drug addict found murdered on the streets had Eastby's ring in his pocket. The detectives consider the case closed and abandon any further investigation. Chloe gives birth to a baby boy named Terence, and his uncle Tom blesses him not with greatness but with luck.



The script was originally set in The Hamptons, a wealthy enclave in New York, but was transferred to London when Allen found financing for the film there.[5] The film was partly funded by BBC Films, which required that he make the film in the UK with largely local cast and crew. In an interview with The Observer, Allen explained that he was allowed "the same kind of creative liberal attitude that I'm used to", in London. He complained that the American studio system was not interested in making small films: "They only want these $100 million pictures that make $500m."[6] A further change was required when Kate Winslet, who was supposed to play the part of Nola Rice, resigned a week before filming was scheduled to begin. Scarlett Johansson was offered the part, and accepted, but the character had to be re-written as an American. According to Allen, "It was not a problem...It took about an hour."[6]

Filming took place in London in the summer of 2004 over a seven-week schedule.[6] Some of the city's landmarks, such as Tate Modern, Norman Foster's "Gherkin" building at 30 St Mary Axe, Richard Rogers' Lloyd's building, the Royal Opera House, the Palace of Westminster, Blackfriars Bridge, and Cambridge Circus form a backdrop to the film.[7] The tennis club scenes were filmed at the Queen's Club.[6] One of the University of Westminster's Marylebone campus lecture theatres was also used. UK-based graffiti artist Banksy's Girl With Balloon appears briefly in the film. One of the Parliament View apartments at Lambeth Bridge was used for interiors of Chris and Chloe's apartment. The restaurant scene was shot at the Covent Garden Hotel.[8]


Woody Allen, 2006

The film's opening voiceover from Wilton introduces its themes of chance and fate, which he characterizes as simple luck, to him all-important. The sequence establishes the protagonist as an introvert, a man who mediates his experience of the world through deliberation, and positions the film's subjective perspective through his narrative eyes. Charalampos Goyios argued that this hero, as an opera lover, maintains a sense of distance from the outer world and that ramifications therein pale in comparison to the purity of interior experience.[9]

The film is a debate with Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, which Wilton is seen reading early on, identifying him with the anti-hero Raskolnikov.[9] That character is a brooding loner who kills two women to prove that he is a superior being, but is racked by guilt and is finally redeemed by confession of his crime, the love of a young woman forced into prostitution, and the discovery of God. Wilton is a brooding loner who kills a poor girl who loves him because he considers his interests superior to those around him, knows little guilt, and avoids detection through luck. Allen signals his intentions with more superficial similarities: both are almost caught by a painter's unexpected appearance in the stairwell, and both sleuths play cat and mouse with the suspect. Allen argues, unlike Dostoevsky, that there is neither God, nor punishment, nor love to provide redemption. The theme of parody and reversal of Dostoevsky's motifs and subject matter has been visited by Allen before, in his film Love and Death. In Love and Death, the dialogue and scenarios parody Russian novels, particularly those by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, such as The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Gambler, The Idiot, and War and Peace.[10] In Match Point, Allen moves the theme from parody to the more direct engagement of Dostoevsky's motifs and narratives.[10]

Allen revisits some of the themes he had explored in Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), such as the existence of justice in the universe. Both films feature a murder of an unwanted mistress, and "offer a depressing view on fate, fidelity, and the nature of man".[11] That film's protagonist, Judah Rosenthal, is an affluent member of the upper-middle class having an extramarital affair. After he tries to break the affair off, his mistress blackmails him and threatens to go to his wife. Soon, Rosenthal decides to murder his mistress, but is racked with guilt over violating his moral code. Eventually, he learns to ignore his guilt and go on as though nothing has happened. Philip French compared the two films' plots and themes in The Observer, and characterized Match Point's as a "clever twist on the themes of chance and fate".[12]

Money is an important motivator for the characters: both Wilton and Nola come from modest backgrounds and wish to enter the Hewett family using their sex appeal. That family's secure position is demonstrated by their large country estate, and, early on in their relationships, both prospective spouses are supported by Mr. Hewett, Wilton with a position on "one of his companies" and Nola reports being "swept off her feet" by Hewett's attention and presents.[13] Roger Ebert posed the film's underlying question as "To what degree are we prepared to set aside our moral qualms in order to indulge in greed and selfishness? Wilton is facing a choice between greed and lust, but his sweet wife, Chloe, herself has no qualms about having her father essentially 'buy' her husband for her."[13]

Jean-Baptiste Morain, writing in Les Inrockuptibles, noticed how the strong do not accept their own weakness and have no qualms about perpetuating an injustice to defend their interests. This wider political sense is, he argued, accentuated by its English setting, where class differences are more marked than in the USA. The film pits passion and the dream of happiness against ambition and arrivisme, resolving the dispute with a pitiless blow that disallows all chance of justice.[14]

Musical accompaniment[edit]

The film's soundtrack consists almost entirely of pre-World War I 78 rpm recordings of opera arias sung by the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. This bold use, despite Caruso's variety of musical styles, constitutes a first for Allen. Opera has been used before in his work as an indicator of social class, such as in Husbands and Wives (1992). In Match Point, the arias and opera extracts make an ironic commentary on the actions of the characters and sometimes foreshadow developments in the movie's narrative. Furthermore, given Wilton's status as an introvert and opera enthusiast himself, the accompaniment emphasizes his detachment from his crime.[9]

The 10-minute murder scene which forms the film's climax is scored with almost the whole of the Act II duet between Otello and Iago from Giuseppe Verdi's Otello. This is an atypical scoring for a film, since Verdi's piece is not an aria, but a dramatic dialogue in which the words are as important as the music. Thus the astute spectator will be presented with two dramatic narratives to follow; Allen is not respecting traditional conventions of cinematic accompaniment, since the score's events do not match the story unfolding onscreen.[9]

Arias and extracts include work by Verdi (in particular Macbeth, La traviata, Il trovatore and Rigoletto), Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Georges Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, and Antônio Carlos Gomes's Salvator Rosa sung by Caruso. The romanza "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir d'amore is featured repeatedly, including during the opening credits. The Caruso arias are supplemented by diegetic music from contemporary performances that the characters attend over the course of the film. There are scenes at the Royal Opera House and elsewhere performed by opera singers (scenes from La traviata performed by Janis Kelly and Alan Oke, from Rigoletto performed by Mary Hegarty), accompanied by a piano (performed by Tim Lole).[15]


Allen has said that Match Point is one of his few "A-films", and even "arguably may be the best film that I've made. This is strictly accidental, it just happened to come out right. You know, I try to make them all good, but some come out and some don't. With this one everything seemed to come out right. The actors fell in, the photography fell in and the story clicked. I caught a lot of breaks!"[16]

The film was screened out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.[17] Match Point broke a streak of box office flops for Allen: it earned $85,306,374 worldwide, of which $23,151,529 was in its North American run.[4] Allen was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.[18]

The film received generally strong reviews from critics, particularly in the United States. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 77% based on 216 reviews with an average rating of 7.2/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Woody Allen's sharpest film in years, Match Point is a taut, philosophical thriller about class and infidelity."[19] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 72 out of 100, and thus "generally favorable reviews", based on 40 professional critics.[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Roger Ebert gave the film a full four stars, and considered it among the four best Allen films.[22] He described it as having a "terrible fascination that lasts all the way through".[13] Empire magazine gave the film four stars out of five, calling it Allen's best of his last half a dozen films, and recommended it even to those who are not fans of the director.[23]

Reviewers in the United Kingdom were generally less favorable. Philip French, writing in The Observer, criticized Allen's grasp of British idiom and the film's lack of humor, especially considering that two comic actors from the UK were cast in minor roles. Also, he called the dialogue "rather lumbering" and said that "the lexicons of neither the City financier nor the London constable are used convincingly."[12] Tim Robey, writing in The Daily Telegraph, disdained the claim that the film was Allen's return to form. Although he acknowledged that the consensus was stronger this time, he called it "as flat-footed a movie as Allen has ever made, a decent idea scuppered by a setting – London – which he treats with the peculiarly tin-eared reverence of a visitor who only thinks he knows his way around." He called Johansson's character "the chain-smoking mistress from hell", but said the tennis net analogy has an "unexpectedly crisp payoff" and that the last act was well handled.[24] Reviewing for the BBC's website, Andy Jacobs awarded the film four stars out of five, and called it Allen's best film since Deconstructing Harry (1997). He also criticized some other British reviewers whose dislike, Jacobs stated, was due to the fact that Allen presented an agreeable portrait of middle class life in London. He also praised the performances by Rhys Meyers and Johansson.[11]

Like many of Allen's films, Match Point was popular in France: AlloCiné, a cinema information website, gave it a score of 4.4 out of 5, based on a sample of 30 reviews.[25] In Les Inrockuptibles, a left-wing French cultural magazine, Jean-Baptiste Morain gave the film a strong review, calling it "one of his most accomplished films".[14] He characterized Allen's move to London as re-invigorating for him, while recognizing the caricatured portrayal of Britain which made the film less appreciated there than in Allen's homeland, the United States. Morain called Rhys-Meyers' and Johansson's performances "impeccable".[14]

Match Point has also been the object of scholarship. Joseph Henry Vogel argued the film is exemplary of ecocriticism as an economic school of thought.[26] Several critics and commentators have compared elements of the film to the central plot of George Stevens' film A Place in the Sun (1951), but with some characters in reverse positions.[12][27]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient Result Ref.
Academy Awards March 5, 2006 Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen Nominated [28]
César Awards February 25, 2006 Best Foreign Film Match Point Nominated [29]
Golden Eagle Award January 27, 2007 Best Foreign Language Film Match Point Nominated [30]
Golden Globe Awards January 16, 2006 Best Motion Picture – Drama Match Point Nominated [31]
Best Director Woody Allen Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Scarlett Johansson Nominated
National Board of Review January 10, 2006 Top Ten Films Match Point Top 10 [32]


  1. ^ "Match Point (2005)". Lumiere. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  2. ^ "Match Point (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 6 September 2005. Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Match Point (2006)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 17 September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Match Point (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  5. ^ Scott, A.O. (28 December 2005). "London Calling, With Luck, Lust and Ambition". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Garfield, Simon (8 August 2004). "Why I Love London". The Observer. Archived from the original on 26 September 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Match Point". VisitBritain. Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  8. ^ Match Point Archived 11 July 2019 at the Wayback Machine at Film London
  9. ^ a b c d Goyios, Charalampos Living Life as an Opera Lover: On the Uses of Opera as Musical Accompaniment in Woody Allen's Match Point Archived 22 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Senses of Cinema, Issue 40. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  10. ^ a b Stafford, Jeff. "Love and Death (1975)". TCM.com. Archived from the original on 31 July 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2013. ...he was able to pay homage to some of his favorite films: a battlefield hawker who sells blinis to the troops recalls Harpo Marx in Duck Soup (1933), a dueling scene appears modeled on a Bob Hope routine in Monsieur Beaucaire (1946), the climax is a direct nod to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957) and the Scythian Suite by Stravinsky is used as background music in one scene, just as it was in Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938). Famous dialogue from the novels of Tolstoy like War and Peace and Anna Karenina is also parodied along with in-jokes about the poetry of T. S. Eliot.
  11. ^ a b Jacobs, Andy Match Point (2006) Archived 1 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine www.bbc.co.uk/film, 6 January 2006; Retrieved 21 January 2012
  12. ^ a b c French, Philip "Matchpoint Archived 7 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine", The Observer, 8 January 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2012
  13. ^ a b c Ebert, Roger, Review: Match Point Archived 20 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 6 January 2006. Retrieved 22 January 2012
  14. ^ a b c Morain, Jean-Baptiste, Match Point Archived 6 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Les Inrockuptibles, 1 January 2005, Retrieved 22 January 2012. (in French)
  15. ^ Harvey, Adam (2007). "Match Point (2005)". The Soundtracks of Woody Allen. Macfarland. pp. 87–90. ISBN 9780786429684.
  16. ^ Schembri, Jim "Words from Woody Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine", The Age, 6 January 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  17. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Match Point". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
  18. ^ 78th Annual Academy Awards Archived 24 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine www.oscars.org. Retrieved 22 January 2012
  19. ^ "Match Point (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2022. Edit this at Wikidata
  20. ^ "Match Point Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 6 May 2024.
  22. ^ "Crimes and Misdemeanors". Roger Ebert. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2005.
  23. ^ Smith, Adam. "Review: Matchpoint". Empire. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  24. ^ Robey, Tim "Still Waiting for Woody's Comeback Archived 7 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine" The Daily Telegraph, 6 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  25. ^ Matchpoint Archived 3 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine, AlloCiné. Retrieved 21 January 2012. (in French)
  26. ^ Vogel, Joseph Henry (2008). "Ecocriticism as an Economic School of Thought: Woody Allen's Match Point as Exemplary". OMETECA Science and Humanities (XII): 105–119.
  27. ^ Denby, David (9 January 2006). "Game Playing: Match Point, Casanova, and The Matador". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  28. ^ "The 78th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  29. ^ "César Awards, France - 2006 Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  30. ^ Золотой Орел 2006 [Golden Eagle 2006] (in Russian). Ruskino.ru. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Match Point". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 1 May 2024.
  32. ^ "2005 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2024.

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