Allen, Johansson magic in 'Scoop'
Stephen Taylor / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
Directed by Woody Allen
In Match Point, director Woody Allen moved away
from his beloved New York City and onto the streets of London.
And it seems the 71-year-old took such a shine to
the British capital that his latest murder mystery comedy, Scoop, is also set
against a backdrop of iconic British symbols such as an aristocratic stately
home and the Royal Albert Hall.
So has Allen simply transferred Manhattan Murder
Mystery to the other side of the Atlantic? At first glance, you could be
forgiven for thinking so, but Scoop has a far lighter feel, and Allen's casting
of Scarlett Johansson as Sondra Pransky, an American student journalist,
reveals hidden comic talent in her second film with Allen.
Allen plays Sid Waterman, a struggling magician
whom Pransky meets when she goes to one of his magic shows and is chosen to
participate in one of his tricks.
Once inside his "magic box," Pransky
encounters the spirit of Joe Strombel (Ian McShane), a recently deceased
journalist who offers her a scoop on the "Tarot Card Murderer," a
serial killer on a par with the notorious Jack the Ripper, who terrorized
London at the end of the 19th century.
When Strombel points the finger at Peter Lyman
(Hugh Jackman), a member of the British upper crust, over the killings, Pransky
sniffs the possibility of getting the first and perhaps most important
exclusive of her career in journalism.
Pransky and Waterman join forces to investigate
the allegations but, in her quest for a good story, Pransky ends up beguiled by
Lyman's charm and admits to being a "would-be investigative reporter who
has fallen in love with the object of her investigation."
Though the chemistry between Allen and Johansson
can never be compared to that of his work with Diane Keaton in the 1970s, the
two New Yorkers work well together and Johansson's comic timing deserves to be
given more chance to grow in the future. And, as the girl-next-door with
attitude in Scoop, it's not hard to understand why the smooth-talking
Englishman falls for her.
With a nice twist at the end and a script that is
funny without getting too demanding, Scoop is an engaging film that is well
worth 95 minutes of anybody's time.
The movie opens Saturday.
(Oct. 26, 2007)