Don't miss the point and write off Woody Allen's latest movie as just more of the same from him, a movie sermonizing that people are driven by narcissism and callousness, that no one's satisfied with what they have, that their labors to enrich their lives boomerang. Yes, people in the movie are acquisitive and melancholic. But the remarkable piece is the basis of why. And the commendable fixation of Woody's films has been his keenness to reflect candidly about concerns that are unmistakably his own, like his classic inter-generational romance and pending mortality, in a shared arena. It takes maturity, modesty and skill to be such a veteran and legend and continually make films that are basically dry shrugs rather than stylistically virtuoso wide-appeal blockbusters, and our prolific exponent of existential insignificance brings us a droll flurry of happenstance, about-faces and surprises, a movie about the frightened manner in which an old man confronts mortality. More, it's about the imprudent manner in which we all cope with the truth that one day, a character in the movie says, we're going to meet the "tall dark stranger," not a lover but the grim reaper.
Its viewpoint is of an omniscient outsider, the intermittent narrator of the film. This voice is fully acquainted with the troubles of the characters, sees them wish, yearn and daydream and offers that life is "a tale told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing." That reflection illustrates the action of the film reasonably. We see numerous people nervously dashing about seeking contentment. These characters flourish at fluctuating degrees with money, careers, cultivation. But for them and all of us, everything boils down to the longing for love, to be viewed as indispensable in the eyes of somebody new, as they require reassurance. It can't all signify nothing if you're important to someone…right? This someone must be a new person, as you and your present lover are too deludedly familiar with one another, and you can envisage a breathtaking persona onto the new lover until you become too acquainted with that person. It's implicit the whole time, naturally, that you are important.
We meet an elderly lady played by Gemma Jones whose husband, Anthony Hopkins, has left her for a youthful, insatiable blonde. She seeks comfort from a medium who sees her suspended in wondrous mists of grandeur and foresees she'll meet a fantastically exceptional man, therefore the title. Jones's daughter is Naomi Watts, who is married to Josh Brolin, whose first novel was a hit and who's been living off her money ever since, while holding her accountable for his writer's block. In the meantime, the precarious Hopkins is squandering his livelihood on Charmaine, an "actress." Watts and Brolin have argued about money and his perpetually unfinished sophomore novel for so long they've gone sour with one another. Their eyes drift. She's attracted to her charismatic boss, who, as he's played by Antonio Banderas, makes it difficult for us to disagree. Brolin finds himself looking into the window of a flat across from his, where a classic "woman in the window" onto whom he can envisage a breathtaking persona.
The way Woody handles this is by a series of conversations in which paradoxes are illustrated by the search for happiness. Freida Pinto's woman in the window's remarkably sympathetic with Brolin. Charmaine is a floozy, but not entirely without a heart. The movie is forgiving. But the search for happiness is doomed by definition: You must be happy with what you have, not with what you desire, because the probability of getting it is so fly-by-night. So consider old Jones. She doesn't meet a tall, dark stranger; she meets a short, stout one, he owns an occult bookshop, and they determine it was meant for them to be together. What more can you ask? The others are all too smart for their own good.
Woody's virtuosity as a writer prevails in the way he shows the comprehensive array of apprehensive reactions to mortality. At the hub are Hopkins and Jones. Divergence is one manner in which Woody connects his numerous characters: Each portrays a counterpoint to another: Brolin longs to achieve immortality through his work. When he sees the limits in his flair for it that would hinder him from enduring renown, he steals a novel from a dying man. He goes through the whole movie in one outfit: the dreariest auburn you can picture. And he becomes infatuated with the woman who lives diametrically across from him, who appears throughout the movie in the core color that counterpoints dreariness, a passionate red. Both are writers, one academic, one creative; both are discontented with marrying sheep; she's youthful and en route to prominence, he's fading from the prominence of his youth. They're mirror images cast in opposite directions.
There's a color-centered counterpoint in Hopkins and Jones, too. Both appear all through the film in white clothes. His white comes to characterize the therapeutic unproductiveness of his longing to achieve immortality, hers her budding adulation for the white light. Woody situates a comparatively grounded woman, Watts, between two diametric contrary: her husband Brolin in tan, and gallery owner Banderas, who invariably dresses in an enigmatic black. Woody corresponds actors here so that Brolin seems closely like a distended version of Banderas, so it's as if Watts quivers between cumbersome and ideal forms of the same object of affection. There are divergences everywhere, and they're each reverberating the one important one in life: You're either alive, in any case, or your dead, and that dichotomy's irrevocable.