Film: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger


Cast includes: Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary), Pauline Collins (Upstairs Downstairs), Anthony Hopkins(The Silence of the Lambs), Naomi Watts (The Painted Veil), Josh Brolin (W.), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire),  Lucy Punch (Being Julia), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zorro)
Writer/Director: Woody Allen (Annie Hall)
Genre: Comedy (2010)

In brief: The web of relationship intrigue starts with Helena. When she pours her heart out to Cristal, her new psychic reader, Cristal tells Helena she’s “been too hard on herself.” Even though Helena’s husband, Alfie, ran out on her, Crystal says that Helena is “bathed in rose light and positive energy.” Alfie has been deluding himself, “whitening his teeth and darkening his skin”… obviously seeking the 30-something life. “My wife has allowed herself to get old.” Helena’s problems aren’t just with Alfie. Her daughter, Sally, married badly… Roy has been working on his second novel for years. Instead of having a baby, Sally has to be the breadwinner of the family. Even though she enjoys her job, and her boss takes a special interest in her, Sally is unfulfilled. Meanwhile, Roy has writer’s block. Perhaps he needs to meet the woman in red… the one in the window, across the way.

Roy can be such a wet blanket at times. When Helena stops by to tell Sally about the good news she’s gotten from Cristal, Roy does nothing but ridicule. And what does Crystal say now? It’s the oldest line in the book… “You will meet a tall dark stranger.” Oh please! It’s Alfie who’s out there meeting people. Granted, most of them are no younger than Helena, but Alfie’s not giving up. Even Cristal has a hard time calming Helena when the news breaks that Alfie is planning to marry Charmaine, an “actress half his age.” Just where is that tall dark stranger?

This Tall Dark Stranger has it all… wacky/convoluted plot, great writing, perfect casting, great lines and good laughs. For those who’ve loved Woody but felt some of his films haven’t been up to snuff, this Woody is one of his best. Unlike many Woody films, it doesn’t feature a neurotic New York Jew. It doesn’t even take place in New York. Set in London, Woody taps into some new comic themes. But at its core is Woody’s fine-tuned brand of ironic humor. The scene when we first meet Charmaine is hysterical… even before she utters her first word. Woody successfully uses all the tools available… plot development, well-crafted dialogue and visual gags to make us laugh. This one is definitely “bathed in positive energy.”


popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

One of Woody’s best

Popcorn Profile

Primary Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Limited mainstream & Art house
Mood: Jubilant
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely varnished realism
Character Development: Interesting
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Mostly entertainment


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