Keith Hamshere
Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 25, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Current Status
In Season
Limited Release Date
Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Freida Pinto
Woody Allen
Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Allen

We gave it an C+

Woody Allen beats his audience to the shrug in the toss-away romantic square dance You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. The resilient old filmmaker cites Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the beginning of his fable of lucky, handsome people who nevertheless wish their luck were even better. Allen refers to ”a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

That’s a pretty high-toned way to limit his liability for the lackluster quality of this very slight entry in the canon — another London tale, and a dully shot, poorly used London at that. I’m not sure who the idiot is here, but I’m going to go with…all of the gentle fools assembled. Chief among them are an elderly couple (Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones) whose pleasant union dissolves when, chasing lost youth, the old guy marries a coarse ex-prostitute (Lucy Punch, who did similar crazy-slut moves in Dinner for Schmucks). Then there’s the couple’s daughter (Naomi Watts), whose own marriage unravels because her novelist husband (Josh Brolin) is a self-absorbed kvetch. Plus, he’s attracted to their neighbor (Freida Pinto), while she fancies her boss (Antonio Banderas). The best scenes are hilarious sessions between the great Gemma Jones and the wonderful Pauline Collins as a charlatan fortune-teller: Lovers of Jones in the heavenly 1970s BBC series The Duchess of Duke Street and Collins in the legendary Upstairs, Downstairs are lucky indeed. C+

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