In You will meet a tall dark stranger coming out this week the stars are aligned once again. Woody Allen’s new picture–its title wrily referring to what fortune-tellers will say as soon as you’re in the door– is a winner, vintage Allen, with idiosyncrasies firmly rooted in tradition, the endearing stranger doing the voiceover and even—even!—a character named Alfie, played by Anthony Hopkins.
If in 1977 someone told you that Anthony Hopkins would billed in an Allen picture and his character was named ‘Alfie’ would you have believed them? Me thinks not. And if you’re like me, then you’re a part of that thirtysomething generation of disabused Woody Allen cinephiles who have been waiting for the return of our quintessential Jewish-American filmmaker. And “You will meet” is it. It’s almost as if seventy four year-old Allen made a conscious effort to dip back into the early years of his opus for inspiration when making this new film, which is based in London and comes out this week.
Allen’s coterie of ambitious characters are delusional and get entangled in messy complications over their pursuit of daydreams, whether it is getting young at retirement age (Alfie) or becoming a successful novelist (Roy, played by Josh Brolin).
When I said the stars are aligned, I meant it literally. Allen has assembled a wonderful cast which also includes Naomi Watts and Gemma Jones in daughter and mother roles. Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto have key supporting parts.
So if this all sounds celebratory, that’s because it is. Sure, it’s hard to argue that there hasn’t been a good Allen movie in the last ten years (“Match point”) but with “You will meet a tall dark stranger,” which hold water and is eminently enjoyable to watch, Allen has reconciled himself with the early years films so many of us remember and favor.