DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger DVD Review

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger movie poster You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Theatrical Release: September 22, 2010 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Writer/Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Antonio Banderas (Greg Clemente), Josh Brolin (Roy Channing), Anthony Hopkins (Alfie Shepridge), Gemma Jones (Helena), Freida Pinto (Dia), Lucy Punch (Charmaine), Naomi Watts (Sally Channing), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Jonathan Wunch), Anna Friel (Iris), Theo James (Ray Richards), Fenella Woolgar (Jane), Alex MacQueen (Malcolm Dodds), Philip Glenister (Al), Christian McKay (Sy), Pauline Collins (Cristal Delgiorno), Ewen Bremner (Henry Strangler), Neil Jackson (Alan), Jim Piddock (Peter Wicklow), Celia Imrie (Enid Wicklow), Anupam Kher (Tarak), Joanna David (Alan's Mother), Natalie Walter (Becky), Zak Orth (Narrator)

Buy on DVD from Amazon.com • Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon.com

How does he do it? Woody Allen writes and directs a new movie every single year. 2011 will be the thirtieth consecutive year that at least one feature film written and directed by Allen has debuted in theaters. At 75, he shows no sign of stopping. It'd be one thing if Allen had his own backlot/soundstage and a troupe of actors, but, nope, he moves all over the world and never fails to attract at least a handful of famous and talented actors in demand.

Keeping his remarkably productive streak alive, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger returns Allen to London, where he made three consecutive films in the middle of last decade. Here, the filmmaker assembles an impressive cast spanning three generations for a slice of life production focusing on the relationships of a woman and her recently-divorced mother and father.

Even the company of newfound muse Dia (Freida Pinto) is not enough to cushion Roy (Josh Brolin) from the shock of how an acquaintance's car accident survival might have serious professional consequences for him. Sally Channing (Naomi Watts) enjoys modeling pricy earrings for her boss Greg (Antonio Banderas).

The woman is Sally Channing (Naomi Watts), a Brit who takes a job at a prestigious art gallery, assisting Greg (Antonio Banderas). Sally is ready to start having kids, but her American husband Roy (Josh Brolin) is not. After years of working only on it, Roy finally completes what is to be his second book and is anxiously waiting to hear back from the publisher. His lack of paid employment has made the couple financially dependent on Sally's mother Helena (Gemma Jones), who is apt to show up at any time without advance notice.

Helena is currently finding comfort in the wisdom and vision of a psychic, becoming especially charmed by the notion of reincarnation. Softening Roy's edges as he endures a taxing wait and the possibility of rejection is Dia (Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto), a pretty young woman he sees and hears playing music in the apartment window across a courtyard from his. Though she is engaged and he married, they begin spending time together somewhat flirtatiously. Meanwhile, Sally enjoys the attention paid to her by her boss, who is in a similarly troubled marriage.

Rounding out the cast is Sally's father Alfie (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy man looking to sew some wild oats regardless of his age. He thinks he finds his own muse in Charmaine (Lucy Punch), a struggling actress-turned-escort half his age to whom he swiftly becomes engaged. Alfie spoils his immature fiancι with fur upon fur in their posh new apartment.

Aging but active Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) quickly gets serious with young actress turned call girl Charmaine (Lucy Punch). He may not be tall or dark, but the complimentary Jonathan (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) might just be the stranger that Helena's (Gemma Jones) psychic foresaw her meeting.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger defies genre classification. It feels like a comedy, but outside of a few scattered places, there are no jokes or intended laughs. The next logical choice -- drama -- might fit, but the movie doesn't at all contemplate or linger on the life issues it raises for all its characters. Perhaps then we can consider this a romance, since every lead character either finds love or thinks they do. The DVD's inexplicable silhouetted moonlight cover art seems most to align with this. But really no label carries as much meaning here as Woody Allen's name does.

This is a Woody Allen movie. With a lot of talk, little action, overlapping relationships, quirks, insecurities, infidelities, and an older man with a much younger woman, it has his styles, his interests, his sensibilities, his characters, and his melting pot of divergent ideas.
It even has his voice in the form of actor Zak Orth, who provides narration sounding just as Woody might have a couple of decades ago.

No one else today really makes films like Woody Allen does and Woody Allen clearly isn't interested in making his films resemble anyone else's. With his creative process on such a regular and relatively demanding schedule, every one of Allen's new films seems to aim for and land in some kind of middle ground. There is too much humanity and personality to dismiss any of them altogether, especially when such qualities are as uncommon as they presently are in the Hollywood machine. But rarely does Allen's recent output seem to labor over cohesiveness, a satisfying structure, or getting a strong emotional response of any kind. That leaves them feeling simply like entertainment, thoughtful entertainment but not especially resonant or memorable. And yet, I feel guilty even thinking to ask for more than that. How many other directors of 1970s prominence are still working today, let alone to anywhere near the degree and enjoyment that Allen is? At this point, volume and work ethic would make Allen a legend even if his body of work wasn't so admired. If the movies he's making these days are as much for his own edification as that of audiences, so be it.

That such a point could be made reflects the modest and seemingly diminishing returns and distribution given to Allen's movies in America. True, his films have always been more successful critically than commercially and his career high was the $40 million put up by Hannah and Her Sisters back in 1986. But it is odd that no matter how many famous and popular actors Allen casts, people just don't really go to see them in theaters (the two most recent exceptions being the strong-performing Vicky Cristina Barcelona in 2008 and the thriller Match Point in 2005-06). Of course, in the US at least, people just don't really go to the theaters to see low-concept character studies, not when they'll turn up on DVD a few months later. Stranger has taken nearly five months, but it arrives on DVD and Blu-ray next Tuesday.

Watch a clip from You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Surround 3.0 (English, French)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $28.95
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($38.96 SRP)


Though the rest of the industry increasingly embraces the 2.40:1 ratio, Woody Allen remains content with his long-preferred 1.85:1 widescreen, rendered here as screen-filling 1.78:1. Picture quality, as it usually is on Sony DVDs, is great, even with space to spare on a single-layered disc. Close inspection does reveal a fair amount of minor compression artifacts, but they will go unnoticed for most.

Allen also defies standards with a Dolby Surround 3.0 soundtrack. That is still above the monaural experience the director was relying on until recently. There are no problems with the crisp audio, which sends score to the rear speakers for slight reinforcement.

Woody Allen's evident disregard for bonus features makes the inclusion of the film's original theatrical trailer (from which this credit is taken) all the more meaningful. Dia and Roy carry a conversation across a courtyard in what is perhaps the most memorable image of the movie and its DVD's main menu montage.


Typical for Woody Allen, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is not accompanied by substantial bonus features. The Special Features menu does, however, hold the movie's original theatrical trailer (1:38) and a still page promoting the soundtrack.

In lieu of a Previews menu, the main menu's "Preview" listing plays the full theatrical trailer for Barney's Version (2:20).

The main menu plays clips with animated transitions and loud jazz score.

Watch the trailer for You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

To the unbuttoned displeasure of Roy (Josh Brolin), his mother-in-law Helena (Gemma Jones) is wont to pop over unannounced for a drink.


By now, over forty years into his career, you should know what you're getting in a Woody Allen film and you get it in You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. It's not hilarious or provocative, just a reasonably enjoyable time with characters that are easy to care about. That makes this, like most of Allen's films, a worthwhile rental and a thoughtful alternative to more visible cinema.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy on Blu-ray from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Woody Allen: Whatever Works | Sony Pictures Classics: Please Give • Micmacs
New: Welcome to the Rileys • Nowhere Boy • Life as We Know It • You Again • America America • Broadcast News (Criterion Collection)
The Kids Are All Right • Greenberg • Eat Pray Love • New York, I Love You • A Serious Man • Everybody's Fine • Cyrus
Josh Brolin: No Country for Old Men • In the Valley of Elah • The Goonies | Naomi Watts: Eastern Promises
Anthony Hopkins: Nixon • Proof • Bram Stoker's Dracula • Beowulf | Anna Friel: Pushing Daisies: The Complete First Season
Lucy Punch: Dinner for Schmucks • Hot Fuzz | Antonio Banderas: Shrek the Third • Shrek the Halls

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Songs List: Leon Redbone - "When You Wish Upon a Star", Tom Sharpsteen & His Orlandos - "When My Baby Smiles at Me", Benny Goodman & His Orchestra - "If I Had You", Tali Roth - "Grave Assai" from Guitar Quintet in D Major 'Fandango' G448, The Eddy Davis Trio - "I'll See You in My Dreams", Marc Ferrari & Michael McGregor - "Let Your Body Move", Sir Charles Mackerras & Prague Orchestra - "Serenade No. 6 in D Major, K. 239 Ill Rondo Allegretto", Tom Sharpsteen & His Orlandos - "Only You (And You Alone)", Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Luciano Pavarotti & Nicolai Ghiaurov - "'Tu che a Dio spiegasti l'ali' [Lucia di Lammermoor/Act 3]", Silver/Sir Realist - "Laser Luxe", Giulia y Los Tellarini - "Mais Si L'Amour", Scott Nickoley & Jamie Dunlap - "I Never Loved You", Tom Sharpsteen & His Orlandos - "My Sin"

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
Download from iTunes • Download Amazon MP3s • Buy CD from Amazon.com

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed February 10, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Sony Pictures Classics, Mediapro, Versαtil Cinema, Gravier Productions, Antena 3 Films, Antena 3 TV,
Dippermouth Productions, and 2011 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.