Last night, the historian and I saw Match Point, which has the virtue of being a Woody Allen film that almost makes you forget how many lousy movies he's made of late. It's fluid, engaging, provocative, pretty much well-acted, pretty-much well-written--an enjoyable film. As we walked out of the theater, we began talking about it--what we thought of the premise of the movie (it's a movie with a thesis, like Crimes and Misdemeanors and Melinda and Melinda--a "what happens if X is true?" kind of thesis, which the movie then works out), what were the film's longueurs, whether the characters were well-enough developed and whether we felt we understood the main character's motivations, and so on.
I find myself more sensitive lately to certain misogynies in the movies I've seen. (We saw The Ice Harvest a few weeks ago, which actually made me mad on this point.) One point this film could be said to have made, though perhaps unwittingly (I said to the historian), is that it sucks to be a woman. The narrative strategy of the film is to get you to identify enough with the protagonist--the class-climbing male--that you sickeningly assent to his worst actions. Poor Scarlett Johanssen's character: for half the film she gets to be a vampy babe saying fatale-ish things, then the other half, she gets to be a harpy. She was darn good, and she looked wonderful, but it's a thankless part, ultimately. It made me want to revisit the W. Allen films I truly love (for the record, they are: Annie Hall, Love and Death, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Sweet and Lowdown, and I guess that's it) to see what I think of the way each film treated its female characters.
We woke up slow this morning, and found ourselves thinking again about the film. We had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago, when we saw Munich and had a very spirited conversation about it afterward. My beloved felt that it favored Israel's view of itself as justified in vengeful actions; my response was almost precisely the opposite. I've been re-reading reviews of the film to check my own responses (not that I need to be right or anything). At this point, though, what I find myself glad for is to be seeing films that stick around in my mind awhile, giving me a reason to consider and reconsider, a reason to keep talking.