Dir: Woody Allen. UK/US. 2006. 96 mins.
After a surge of sortswith last year's Oscar-nominated Match Point, Woody Allen's topsy-turvycareer slumps again with the featherweight Scoop. Having successfullypulled off a dark, Patricia Highsmith-esque thrillerset in London with Match Point, he applies the dizzy slapstick comedy ofThe Curse Of The Jade Scorpion and Manhattan Murder Mystery to aLondon setting in Scoop, which Focus Features is opening in NorthAmerica sans festival platform on July 28. The result is an intermittentlydiverting frippery with as much to irritate as amuse. Only the keenest Allen aficionadoswill forgive him his indulgences here.
Match Point grossed $23.1m in the
Itsinternational appeal will be greater, although it is unlikely to get anywherenear Match Point numbers.
Thetone of whimsy is set from the start. Dispatched from this life at a relativelyearly age, hard-hitting investigative journalist Joe Strombel(McShane) is crossing the River Styx by boat to the afterworld when he is given a tip by a fellow passengerthat the identity of the Tarot Card Killer, a serial killer terrorizing
Wethen meet Sondra Pransky, an American journalismstudent staying with friends (namely the very posh RomolaGarai and mum Carolyn Backhouse) in
Sheenlists the reluctant support of Sid and the two of them begin a quest to getthe story by infiltrating Lyman's affluent life. But Sondra, who is posing asone Jade Spence, makes the classic rookie mistake: she begins an affair withthe man she is investigating and falls in love.
Althoughset against the backdrop of chic apartments,
Johanssonis nonetheless delightful as Sondra and the Australian Jackmanefficiently suave as Lyman, but the 70-year-old Allen himself is a problem. Thenebbish shtick on which he hooks his on-screen persona is only mildly engaginghere and more often incongruous in the upscale
Letty Aronson, Gareth Wiley
Scarlett Johansson, Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, Ian McShane, Romola Garai, Julian Glover