Star cast: Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Freida Pinto, Lucy Punch, Naomi Watts.
Director: Woody Allen.
Plot: Anthony Hopkins leaves Gemma Jones and marries a young call girl, Lucy Punch. Anthony and Gemma’s daughter, Naomi Watts, falls for her playboy boss, Antonio Banderas, while her good-for-nothing husband, Josh Brolin, is bemused with an exotic Indian across the street, Freida Pinto. What happens then?
What’s Good: The wry humour; the interesting characterizations.
What’s Bad: The inconclusive climax.
Verdict: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a funny film while it lasts. Woody Allen fans will queue up for this.
Loo Break: None really.
Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), and their daughter, Sally (Naomi Watts), and her husband, Roy (Josh Brolin). After Alfie leaves Helena, his wife of forty years, to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), Helena tries to kill herself, and then, finding no consolation from medicine and therapy, seeks the help of a fortune teller, Cristal (Pauline Collins). Cristal is a fraudster but her advice, and ‘a little bit of scotch’, starts ruling Helena’s life. No matter what goes wrong, the fortune teller always has something positive to say about it.
Helena’s daughter, Sally, encourages her mother’s pacifying visits to the charlatan fortune teller, as she is weary of dealing with her mother’s trauma, and has marital problems of her own. Her novelist husband, Roy (Josh Brolin), is unable to hold a paying job, and the couple live off Helena’s support and Sally’s earnings as an assistant to a prominent gallery owner, Greg Clemente (Antonio Banderas). Years ago, Roy had produced an acclaimed first novel, but his subsequent books haven’t lived up to his initial promise. Roy’s fears that he may be a flash in the pan make him hard to live with and they clash over Sally’s desire to have a child. While struggling to complete his latest novel, Roy becomes obsessed with a mysterious young woman in a red dress, who plays her guitar from a nearby window. He also feels let down when his friend, Henry Strangler (Ewen Bremner), gives him the manuscript of his first novel. Roy recognises that Strangler possesses the literary talent that has always eluded him.
On the other hand, Sally develops a crush on her handsome boss, Greg, but discovers that he is already in an affair with her friend, Iris (Anna Friel). Roy’s manuscript gets rejected by the publisher, he chances upon an opportunity and sends Strangler’s story as his own instead. In time, he moves in with the mysterious young woman, Dia, who also breaks off her engagement with fiancé Alan (Neil Jackson). Alone and heartbroken, Sally craves for Greg’s company but has to leave the job to start her own gallery. She asks him if he “would have liked to respond to her feelings”. Greg remains poker-faced.
Meanwhile, Alfie’s pursuit of a second youth proves to be more challenging than he had hoped, and Charmaine, the call girl he falls in love with, proves to be an expensive and hazardous investment. She bears a child he had always wanted, but in the end, he is not sure if it (the child) is his. Alfie badly wants to get back to Helena, who, in the meanwhile, has met a soul mate widower, Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths). Jonathan runs an occult bookshop and is willing to marry Helena but only after his dead wife gives him permission!