“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” tackles the fragility, stupidity, and delusion of human relationships.
Allen, in his 46th film as a director, is able to find the humor and absurdity of love in this film just the same as in previous ones such as “VickyCristinaBarcelona” and “Match Point.” In film as in real life, Allen conveys vividly that human beings always believe the grass is greener on the other side, but because of this need, always end up making complete fools of themselves.
The film revolves around two London couples. Helena (Gemma Jones) has lately been seeking the advice of a fraudulent psychic Crystal (Pauline Collins) after being dumped by her husband Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), who falls for a young former escort, Charmaine (Lucy Punch).
Their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) grudgingly puts her dreams on hold to support her husband Roy (Josh Brolin), who after a successful first book has hit a serious case of writer’s block. Both have eyes for other people; Roy is seriously attracted to Dia (Freida Pinto) and Sally develops a crush on her art gallery boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas).
While the cast is certainly experienced, the actors' individual performances don’t seem to blend well in order to create a sense of cohesiveness that you usually get in a Woody Allen film. Nevertheless, one stands out: Jones’ portrayal of Helena is as realistic as they come, a blend of sadness, desperation, and moments of such self-deception you have to laugh. Jones successfully conveys what it must be like to have your marriage of 40 years end and be left with the harsh reality that you may have to live the rest of your life alone.
However, Anthony Hopkins, one of the world’s finest actors, falls flat, seemingly stammering his way through the entire film. Hopkins’ character Alfie tries desperately to revisit his youth, but everyone (except for Alfie) can see that his relationship with Charmaine is a train wreck waiting to happen.
All the other characters in the movie (with the exception of Helena) live in a world of their own making until they are hit with a major dose of reality.
Is Allen trying to send us some sort of message? Who knows. Do people need illusion in order to deal with the harshness of reality? Maybe. But it does leave you with something to think about.