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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (DQ)


Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Antonio Banderas, James Brolin (see AF review for more stars)

Director: Woody Allen

My colleague Alan Frank has been too kind to this film. This shambolic multi-character comedy-drama hits a new low even for Woody Allen, whose films, Whatever Works apart, have become an annual ordeal.

The whole enterprise reeks of artificiality and contrivance, and an all-too-distinguished cast flounders desperately under Allen's unhelpful direction. When Watts, in a career-worst performance, says 'I'm not in the mood to get into any of this now', you can only emphathise. And those determined to grit their teeth and see this out should be warned that nothing, absolutely nothing, is resolved at the end.

Watts, a gallery assistant, is married to Brolin, a failed cabbie/failed author, taking forever to finish his second book. Beset by her neurotic mother (Gemma Jones), who's in thrall to a fake medium (Pauline Collins, the only good thing in the film) Watts, thinking of leaving Brolin, has a crush on her boss (Banderas), who's unhappy in his marriage but secretly bonking Watts' protegé (Anna Friel).

Meanwhile, Jones' ex (Hopkins) is about to marry a prostitute (Lucy Punch), stuffing himself with Viagra to keep her satisfied, while Brolin fancies the girl (Freida Pinto) across the way, and nicks a manuscript written by a dead friend in a bid to revive his comatose career.

Add in Philip Glenister and Christian McKay as Brolin's pals, and you'll see how strong this cast is, but they are clearly receiving little of the right sort of guidance from their director, who also wrote a shapeless script steeped in disinterest and tedium. Certainly the worst film of 2011 so far.

David Quinlan

UK/Spain 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by deluxe.
98 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 Mar 2011