Midway through Woody Allen’s latest dramedy, Anna Friel’s small role as a budding artist laments to her long time friend Sally (Naomi Watts) that the affair she has recently entered into has turned her life into something resembling a soap opera. This description could not be a more apt term to describe You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Allen’s fourth peep behind the curtains of London’s privileged bourgeois, starring an impressive ensemble cast and a fairly standard Allen narrative.
Roy is falling for Dia (Freida Pinto), the gorgeous woman he stares longingly at through the window of the flat opposite, who is engaged to be married to an often absent partner. Additionally, Sally’s recently divorced parents, emotionally fraught Helena (Gemma Jones) and prosperous Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), are both struggling with post-marital life; Helena has set about trying to find spiritual assurance for her unknowing future with her questionable psychic, whereas Alfie remarries almost immediately to a prostitute named Charmaine (Lucy Punch), a materialistic bimbo who is almost half his age.
Being a member of a relatively small minority who believe that Allen is still one of the finest directors working in (and frequently outside) America today, it is with a sigh of relief to note that, as fluffy and lightweight as You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is, it is far from a bad film. Sure, it pales in comparison to the effortless beauty of Manhattan (1979), the intricately composed Annie Hall (1977) or the charmingly melancholic Radio Days (1987), a handful of his finest achievements, but it is still a solid, albeit generic entry into his chequered oeuvre.