You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
|You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Letty Aronson
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Narrated by||Zak Orth|
|Edited by||Alisa Lepselter|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is a 2010 English-language Spanish–American co-production comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. It features Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Pauline Collins. It premiered on 15 May 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival in an out-of-competition slot.
Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones) divorce. Helena begins seeing fortune teller Cristal (Pauline Collins) for spiritual advice. Their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) has a troubled marriage with author Roy (Josh Brolin), who once wrote a successful book, and is now anxiously waiting for response from his publisher about the manuscript of his newest one. Helena helps pay their rent.
Alfie marries a prostitute, Charmaine (Lucy Punch). Roy falls for Dia (Freida Pinto), a musicologist he sees through a window near his and Sally’s flat, who is engaged to another man. Sally considers having an affair with Greg (Antonio Banderas), her new boss at an art gallery who she confesses she has feelings for but Greg confesses he is having trouble at home and eventually it turns out he is having an affair with Iris (Anna Friel), Sally's protégée. Helena begins a friendship with Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), the keeper of an occult bookshop, which develops into romance.
Roy's book is rejected. He hears that a friend, who is also a writer, has died in an accident, and of whom only Roy knows that he had just finished a manuscript that he had not shown to anyone else yet. Roy steals it, and claims it is his work. It is well received. He convinces Dia to break off her engagement, and moves in with her.
Alfie gets into a fight with Charmaine over her high expenses. He asks Helena to make a new start with him, but she refuses. Charmaine has sex with another man and gets pregnant. Alfie wants a DNA test to find out whether he is the father, while Charmaine argues that it does not matter.
Sally quits her job and asks Helena for a loan she promised, for setting up her own art gallery, but Helena refuses because according to Cristal it is astrologically a bad time. Sally is furious. Roy is informed that there was a mix-up of the people killed in the accident and is shocked to hear that the friend whose manuscript he stole is actually in coma and recovering.
In the end, all are dissatisfied with their choices, except for Helena. She has acquired from Cristal a belief in reincarnation, and sees her life now as only one episode in her series of lives. Jonathan shares her esoteric beliefs, and they receive the blessing of his deceased wife for the new relationship via seance.
Allen wrote the script because he was "interested in the concept of faith in something. This sounds so bleak when I say it, but we need some delusions to keep us going. And the people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can't. I've known people who have put their faith in religion and in fortune tellers. So it occurred to me that that was a good character for a movie: a woman who everything had failed for her, and all of a sudden, it turned out that a woman telling her fortune was helping her. The problem is, eventually, she's in for a rude awakening."
- Antonio Banderas as Greg Clemente
- Josh Brolin as Roy Channing
- Anthony Hopkins as Alfie Shepridge
- Gemma Jones as Helena Shepridge
- Freida Pinto as Dia
- Lucy Punch as Charmaine Foxx
- Naomi Watts as Sally Channing
- Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Jonathan Wunch
- Ewen Bremner as Henry Strangler
- Neil Jackson as Allen
- Celia Imrie as Enid Wicklow
- Pauline Collins as Cristal
- Anna Friel as Iris
- Alex MacQueen as Malcolm Dodds
- Meera Syal as Dia's Mother
- Anupam Kher as Dia's Father
- Natalie Walter as Allen's Sister 
- Christian McKay as Poker Friend
- Philip Glenister as Poker Friend
- Theo James as Ray
The film was released in Australia on January 17, 2013. Unusually, this release comes almost three years after the rest of the world and follows Midnight in Paris and To Rome with Love instead of preceding them.
On the brink of the film's premiere at Cannes, a representative of Sony Picture Classics (the film's distributor in the United States) told the Daily Mail that they planned to mount an Oscar campaign for Gemma Jones.
The film has received generally mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 46% based on reviews from 129 critics, with an average score of 5.4 out of ten 10. Its consensus states: "It's sporadically amusing, and typically well-cast, but You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger isn't one of Woody Allen's more inspired late-period efforts." Metacritic, which assigns a rating of 0-100 of top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 51% based on 28 reviews.
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter described it as "A serviceable Woody Allen comedy that trifles with its characters rather than engaging with them." A. O. Scott called Allen the "great champion of cosmic insignificance" and said the film is served up with a "wry shrug and an amusing flurry of coincidences, reversals and semi-surprises. There are hints of farce, droplets of melodrama, a few dangling loose ends and an overall mood of sloppy, tolerant cynicism."
Two reviews expressed opposing viewpoints about where the film stands among Allen's films shot in London. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly stated "The film is notable, if that's the word, for being the first movie Allen has made in London that is every bit as bad as his most awful New York comedies, like Anything Else and Melinda and Melinda." David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph wrote "It sounds like damning with faint praise, but Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is easily the best of his recent London-based films... a fanciful fable... with an idealised London as its setting." Mark Kermode also considered it the best of Allen's London films, but believed Allen was just "treading water".
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- "Cannes Film Festival - Selection List". Festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- Itzkoff, Dave (September 14, 2010). "Woody Allen on Faith, Fortune Tellers and New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Jaafar, Ali; Fleming, Michael (May 12, 2009). "Kidman bolts from Woody Allen film". Cannes 2009. Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- "Hoyts Cinemas - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger". Hoyts Cinemas Australia. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Bamigboye, Baz (16 May 2010). "Sixtysomething British actress Gemma Jones is the talk of Cannes with Oscar-tipped role in Woody Allen movie". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
- "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Honeycutt, Kirk (2010-05-15). "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- Scott, A.O. (September 21, 2010). "Looking for Something When Life Signifies Nothing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Gleiberman, Owen (2010-05-15). "Cannes: Mike Leigh scores and Woody Allen bores". Movie-critics.ew.com. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- Gritten, David (17 May 2010). "Cannes Film Festival: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Kermode, Mark (17 May 2010). "Cannes 2010 Day 4 - So what's good this year?" (Adobe Flash). Kermode Uncut (video blog). BBC. Retrieved 2010-10-29.