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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Blu-ray Review

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You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - blu-ray Review

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4 stars

Woody Allen’s creative second wind continues in the sails of his latest overseas production.  Leaving Manhattan once again, after the ill-received Whatever Works (a film that should have worked a lot better than it actually did), Allen pounces on the idea of a writer’s muse and dabbles with a bit more magic in an adult dramedy that sports one of his finest performing ensembles since the early 1990s.    Released in September, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger barely got a domestic release and saw even less activity from audiences and, yet, it remains one of Allen’s stronger films.

All hell breaks loose when the upper-class couple of Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones) unexpectedly divorce.  Alfie finds himself with a sudden interest in fitness and medicine and Helena waxes poetic on magic and fortune telling.  Both want the same thing: they want to know that everything will be fine in the end, yet that doesn’t stop Alfie from marrying a big-breasted prostitute named Charmaine (Lucy Punch) and keep Helena from dropping her money on readings from her BFF Cristal (Pauline Collins).  Their daughter,   Sally (Naomi Watts), can’t cope with their failings and her own with her husband/author Roy (Josh Brolin), too.

Roy has lost his confidence in his own writing and finds his muse next door in the nightly undressing (seen via an open window) and music (she plays the guitar) of the gorgeous Dia (Freida Pinto).  Sally, too, has developed an interest in another man, her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas), and considers having an affair with him.  Yet, each relationship will be put through the ringer due to social conventions, really bad judgment calls, and the consequences of their attachments and, in typical Allen fashion, they all spiral toward a sort of mystical ending that will resonant more for believers of magic than for unbelievers.

The film, while being sunnier (a staple of his foreign financed features), is heavy with social themes concerning the breakup of established marriages and, the biggest of all, fate in relation to a person’s free will.  Allen doesn’t provide the answers, but does allow for his own beliefs on magic to enter into the equation.  Magic.  It happens.

His lid-tight script, narrated by Zak Orth (although I wish Allen had narrated the film as it would have given it a more of farce quality about it) is not cynical as it situates its cast into the myriad of complications they enact upon themselves with their own delusions and their own beliefs in something; anything; except in themselves.  That’s the ultimate tragedy of the movie.  The characters don’t believe in their strengths and are undone by their own delusions – whether it be in marriage to a prostitute or stealing a friend’s manuscript and calling it your own while he’s in a coma.  Fate comes a-knocking.

Through it all, we don’t need help in figuring out the complicated relationships.  Allen’s adept hand is there guiding the camera from one couple to the next – always hitting the needed pathos – and keeping us spellbound by his tale.  Filmed again by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (who also shot Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, and Maverick), You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is a gorgeous-looking tromp through the sunny side of London even if its topic isn’t so bright.

While there are those who shunned the film with limp reviews, I strongly feel that the film, Allen’s fourth in London, is of his strongest – both thematically and as an ensemble performance.  Sure, you have to get past Brolin’s wonky-looking hair and Punch’s cockney accent, but the contented heart of this film – beating within Jones’s quiet performance – is something of magic.


{2jtab: Film Info}

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - blu-ray reviewMPAA Rating: R for some language.
Director: Woody Allen
: Woody Allen
Cast: Gemma Jones; Pauline Collins; Anthony Hopkins; Naomi Watts; Josh Brolin
: Comedy | Romance
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Memorable Movie Quote: "My husband walked out on me for one simple reason... I was too honest with him."
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Official Site:
Release Date: 22 September 2010 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 15, 2011

Synopsis: Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger follows a pair of married couples, Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) and Helena (Gemma Jones), and their daughter Sally (Naomi Watts) and husband Roy (Josh Brolin), as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds.

After Alfie leaves Helena to pursue his lost youth and a free-spirited call girl named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), Helena abandons rationality and surrenders her life to the loopy advice of a charlatan fortune teller.

Unhappy in her marriage, Sally develops a crush on her handsome art gallery owner boss, Greg (Antonio Banderas), while Roy, a novelist nervously awaiting the response to his latest manuscript, becomes moonstruck over Dia (Freida Pinto), a mystery woman who catches his gaze through a nearby window.

Despite these characters’ attempts to dodge their problems with pipe dreams and impracticable plans, their efforts lead only to heartache, irrationality, and perilous hot water.

Taking its title from the prediction fortune tellers use to beguile their marks, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, illustrates with wry humor how easy it is for our illusions to make fools of us all.


{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 15, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English, English SDH, French
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0 (less)
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live

What colors! What pastels! What a great looking transfer highlighting the work of Zsigmond’s cinematography. This 1080p transfer is ripe as fruit and just as sweet with details, strong and vibrant colors, and great blacks. No banding. No color inconsistencies. The soundtrack is DTS-HD, but since Allen roles with old jazz recordings as the music for his films, there’s really no need for earth rattling sound.



  • Allen speaks through his films. Want a commentary? Read an interview. He hates this stuff.

Special Features:

Again, its Allen. You get a trailer. Were you expecting more?


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