You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Rated 3.0

Woody Allen’s latest invokes the “tall dark stranger” of fortune tellers and romantic fantasy. But as one of the more sardonic characters in this rather dour romantic comedy points out, that storied figure might also be the Grim Reaper. The only death in this multicharacter roundelay happens in the margins, but the variously mismatched couples who dominate the picture’s action and its talk are all coming undone—and the antic schemes of the characters played by Josh Brolin and Anthony Hopkins have them headed for personal disaster and perhaps worse. Furthermore, alas, the tangled hopes and ambitions of the former’s increasingly estranged wife (an excellent Naomi Watts) come crashing down in profession and family alike. The droll-sounding voice-over narrator (Zak Orth) cites the “sound and fury … signifying nothing” from Macbeth, but Allen’s movie plays not as tragedy or even tragicomedy, but as grimly entropic farce. The cast, which also includes Antonio Banderas and Gemma Jones, is impressive, but apart from Watts’ mercurial brilliance, there’s very little spark in this ostensibly feisty set of characters. Pageant Theatre. Rated R.