Thursday, 12 January 2012

Scoop (Woody Allen) film review in The Daily Yomiuri on 26th October 2007

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)

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