You PROMISED Cassandra’s Dream was the last of your London trilogy, yet here I am in the cinema having been tricked out of YET ANOTHER £6.50 to watch a substandard version of Love Actually which, like Mickey Rourke’s face post-surgery, has had all the good bits removed.
If I didn’t know otherwise I would presume that you have never even BEEN to London. Or Europe. Or out of your BEDROOM, because your idea of our capital city seems to have been based solely on repeat viewings of Notting Hill without the jokes or social commentary. Yes I said social commentary. And yes, I am referring to the film in which Hugh Grant falls over a fence and says Whoopsie-Daisy.
I’ve got nothing against Richard Curtis. It’s just that I’m not convinced aping his back catalogue is the way forward for a man who wrote my all-time favourite opening line of, well, pretty much anything.
It's from Annie Hall.
Woody/Alvy says: "There's an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says: boy, the food at this place is really terrible. The other one says, yeah I know, and such ... small portions. Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly."
THAT is what I want to pay £6.50 for.
So between 8.50pm and 10.30pm last night I came to terms with some unpleasant truths.
Naomi Watts can’t act.
Some people are physically incapable of separating themselves from their Facebook newsfeed, even in the cinema.
Woody Allen must NOT be allowed to make another film set anywhere except New York.
You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger just about passes the time. It’s a multi-stranded story about a privileged family falling apart - well, I say falling apart. What I actually mean is going through a not-very-traumatic divorce followed by a second, even less traumatic divorce which has minimal impact on any of the characters and happens off-screen presumably in order to make sure we really don't care about their situation at all.
So Viagra-popping Anthony Hopkins ditches watery-eyed wife Helena for Amazonian gold-digger Charmaine, who’s more interested in her handsome fitness instructor. Helena turns to fraud psychic Crystal for help, while daughter Sally’s marriage to failed novelist Roy crumbles. Newly single Naomi Watts makes an unsuccessful play for Antonio Banderas, while barely-out-of-her-teens Frieda Pinto falls for charmless middleaged Patrick Swayze-lookalike Josh Brolin in perhaps the least likely coupling since that septuagenarian director ditched Mia Farrow for his 20-something adopted daughter… oh wait.
But Neurotic Woody has become Complacent Woody, papering over the cracks in a lazy screenplay with an A-list ensemble cast who don’t quite manage to distract us OH LOOK ITS ANNA FRIEL!!! from realising that despite quite a good premise WAIT ISN’T THAT SIR IAN MCKELLEN? all the characters are vapid or unpleasant and only one storyline comes to a NO WAIT I REALLY THINK IT MIGHT BE THAT BLOKE WHO PLAYED GANDALF satisfying conclusion.
And by the way, I checked and it’s not Sir Ian McKellen. Just a good lookalike.
The story gets juicy approximately two minutes before the end, when Roy realises that the friend whose debut novel he has stolen and published to wild acclaim is not, as Roy thought, dead, but in a coma and maybe even about to wake u- ROLL END CREDITS!
This is about as satisfying as feeding a plastic sandwich to a starving man, and deserves a similar response.
Possibly followed by eating said plastic sandwich in order to make a point, and hopefully choking to death on it in order to avoid the possibility of watching any Woody Allen films made after the turn of the century. Even by mistake.