Some of Woody Allen's recent output has been so depressingly slipshod it seemed preferable for him to hang up his viewfinder for good rather than inflict yet more damage on his reputation. The real surprise in Match Point, then - beyond the English setting and the 'serious' subject matter - is that he's finally produced a film to at least challenge the ones he was making 10 or 20 years ago.
The decision to cross the Atlantic may have been forced upon him by his backers, but there's no denying it's given him the shot in the arm he so desperately needed. And while travelling 3,500 miles hasn't altered his nihilism or rarified milieu, nor produced a classic, there's a refreshing vigour and willingness to experiment here we haven't seen since Husbands And Wives.
Plot-wise, the obvious parallel is Crimes And Misdemeanors, here replayed as an upscale morality tale about a social-climbing tennis coach (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) torn between a life of passionate penury with Scarlett Johansson's American sexpot and one of stultifying affluence with mousy Emily Mortimer. If you've read your Dostoyevsky you can guess where this is going; if you haven't, take a hint from Allen's mordant musings on luck and chance. Safe to say the result is rather chilly, with more worldly guile than trademark wit... but it's also a considerable coup, especially given Allen's a 70-year-old director who'd been more or less written off. Shame about the vanilla DVD, mind.