Matchpoint? “That must be about a game, " you think, how could it be otherwise? And with a décor as London you would guess (without having seen the movie) the games is tennis. In fact it is all spelled out that the game is tennis, with the ball that touches the net in the openings scene. Chris – the main character is invited to join a tennis club on behalf his excellent curriculum. We see him train various people, amongst them Allen, a son of an important family, and his sister Chloe who grows immediately very fond of Chris. It is still a game. All of them singles, there is no double.
The introduction indeed focuses unmistakably about games, competition and winning.
Chris, with his unfortunate background, Allen and his sister Chloe both very well to do. It is clear that Chris wants to get higher up in society, and we see him reading literature, including a manual – how to read Dostoyevsky's Crime and punishment (an important little detail). And he expresses his preference for operas, for which he will be invited for one by Allen; la Traviata. And the growing intimacy with Chloe gets him in the right environment; the match deploys very well into the right direction. When he is invited to their country house he meets the American Nola, a beautiful girl for which he doesn't hide (for us spectators) his crush.
And it becomes clear that he will have to choose between this American temptation and the British convenience. It still fits the game décor in which there are two options, a competition but with only one option to stay alive. And an amount of luck that you sometimes need. To win.
So far the script and the interpretation are as they should be. A game, the role of culture, whether you would believe more in faith and destiny or in your own influence. Differences maybe, between England and the US. It could end there – not the film but the interpretation. Without revealing it all.
Yet, the film is also about theatre. Not about a game, but about a play. In fact there are in the whole move only two characters that seem really alive, Chris and Nola. All others are flat and observers in the very same movie. One interpretation would be that the main characters are not British where the others are, to convey a phlegmatic ambience. But I think it is about stressing the significance of the play inside the film.
And in a play – a theatre – all is orchestrated. There is no need for chance, faith or luck. All is managed until the last movement.
© 2006 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools