The most notable difference between Match Point and other Woody Allen movies is the accent. Instead of native New Yorker, its upper class British - and it makes a world of difference. Even the musical, Everyone Says I Love You, with its European locations, was still instantly recognisable as a Woody Allen film, populated as it was by Americans. But Match Point, shot in England with Allens uncanny flair for capturing the essence of his locales, has, with one exception, a totally British cast and the more familiar delivery of his lines (and they are still his lines) is absent.
It is uncertain whether ex-pro tennis player, Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), now coaching at an exclusive club, is actually planning his rise up the social ladder or if good luck simply falls into his lap. Luck, in fact, is one of the themes of Allens film as illustrated in an opening scene during which a tennis ball floats back and forth over a net as Chris tells us of that crucial moment when the ball hits the top of the net and decides your fate in the game.
Chris is befriended by Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) with whom he shares not only a love for tennis but also a passion for opera. Tom introduces Chris to his upper crust family comprising pater and mater, Alec and Eleanor (Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton effortlessly oozing upper classiness) and sister, Chloe (Emily Mortimer) who, upon seeing Chris, instantly seems to be mapping out their marital future and, indeed, they soon become a couple. Chris is welcomed into the family fold and, with Alecs encouragement, into the family business where he flourishes. It seems he has landed on his feet, but one distraction ensures that that landing is not completely smooth. This comes in the shape of Toms fiancé, Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson) an aspiring - but so far unsuccessful - actress for whom Eleanors disapproval is unconcealed. Between Nola and Chris, however, there is instant attraction.
Chris becomes a legitimate member of the family when he marries Chloe - but not before he tastes the luscious Nola in a rain-soaked seduction and becomes obsessed by her. When Tom and Nola split up, it seems she has gone from Chriss life too, but a chance meeting later leads Nola and Chris into an illicit affair during which Chris has to juggle his two lives. When Nola becomes pregnant and gives Chris an ultimatum, he must choose between his comfortable life as Chloes husband and an unsure future with Nola, the woman he really loves.
Chriss solution is extreme and its outcome unexpected. Near the end of the film there is a visual moment that recalls that tennis ball and its reference to the role that luck plays in our lives. It is a scene that will give Allens story an ironic twist in one of his most satisfying and unanticipated movies.