Match Point | 2005
Woody Allen’s dark thriller was his most successful film in some time, despite some awkward dialogue betraying the transposition of the setting from Long Island’s swanky Hamptons to upper middle class London. A bit of script polishing from, say, Tom Stoppard, could have resulted in a masterpiece. And if you’ve not yet seen the film, there are spoilers ahead.
The Queen’s Club, Palliser Road, W14, is the tennis club where ambitious Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is working as a coach when he meets upper crust Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode). Named after Queen Victoria, the club was established in 1886 as the first multipurpose sports complex in the world. As newer stadiums such as Twickenham, Wembley and White City took over rugby, soccer and athletics, the club focused on lawn tennis, and now hosts the world famous Queen's Club Championships.
Originally a Tudor mansion, Englefield is a private home and not open to visitors, though you can take a look around the gardens. It's also appeared as Charles Xavier's house in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, in Oscar-winner The King's Speech, with Colin Firth, as 'Hellman Hall' in Disney's Cruella, and the 2008 Noël Coward adaptation Easy Virtue (with Colin Firth, again, and Jessica Biel).
Socially climbing Chris is eager to accept the offer of an evening at the opera with the well-heeled Hewetts at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden. The theatrical backdrop to the London scenes of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes, also seen in Sixties international espionage thriller Where The Spies Are, starring David Niven. While closed for radical refurbishment during the Nineties, it became the ‘Fhloston Paradise’ opera house, where the blue alien diva performs, in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.
In no time at all, Chris has taken up a job offer from paterfamilias Alec Hewett (Brian Cox) in the recklessly phallic Swiss Re Tower, 30 St Mary Axe. Initially dubbed the ‘Erotic Gherkin’ (US, read ‘Pickle’), the ‘erotic’ bit was quickly dropped as clearly redundant. Inevitably, in the movies, everybody wants to work in this photo-friendly icon (which is not open to the public). By 2006, fickle old Russell Crowe, who had reported to the Lloyds Building in Proof Of Life in 2000, traded up to work in its young neighbour, the Gherkin, in Ridley Scott’s A Good Year. Hank Azaria works here in Run Fatboy Run but, best of all, police psychologist Dr Glass (David Morrissey) believes the Tower an appropriate place for his sessions with Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) in the hilarious Basic Instinct 2.
With London’s skyline constantly developing, the Gherkin seems about to be upstaged by The Shard, but it’s still hanging on, providing a backdrop to the fight between Thor and Malekith in Thor: The Dark World.
After looking for that perfect cashmere sweater at the South Kensington branch of Ralph Lauren, 105-109 Fulham Road, SW3, Chris bumps into Nola (Scarlett Johansson) on the way to her audition at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Chelsea. The English Stage Company at the Royal Court launched the original productions of many plays which have gone on to become equally famous films. Jimmy Porter first railed against the world here in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, and Laurence Olivier caught up with the new wave as Archie Rice in The Entertainer. Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) and Maurice (Oscar-nominated Peter O’Toole) have a drink in the Royal Court’s bar in Venus.
Chris waits for Nola at the war memorial in the Sloane Square opposite the theatre.
Afterwards, Chris and Nola head for Mayfair, where they get to know each other a little better over a drink in The Audley, 41-43 Mount Street. Also in Mayfair, you’ll find the Curzon Mayfair, 38 Curzon Street, the original Curzon Cinema (there’s now a Soho branch) specialising in first-run arthouse movies, where, in the Seventies, you could catch the latest Bergman, Buñuel or Pasolini.
Manhattan or London, you can always depend on Woody Allen to showcase the best indie cinemas and, sure enough, it’s here that Chris is seriously disappointed when Nola is a no-show to see The Motorcycle Diaries.
Caviar blini or roast chicken? The class divide opens up between well-heeled siblings Tom and Chloe (Emily Mortimer), and their ill-at-ease partners Nola and Chris in Brasserie Max, the restaurant off the lobby of the luxurious Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.
While she waits for that big acting break, Nola pays the rent by working in trendy clothes boutique Paul & Joe, 39 Ledbury Road, some way to the west in Notting Hill. Still further west, in the villagey enclave of Holland Park, Chris and Nola steal a clandestine lunchbreak at stylish restaurant Julie's, 135 Portland Road, W11. Maybe Woody Allen should bring out his own series of guides to the best bars, hotels, art-house cinemas and restaurants. Julie's, by the way, is just around the corner from David Hemmings’ photographic studio in Sixties classic Blowup.
And here's another great place to eat – back in the West End, a block north of Marble Arch tube. Locanda Locatelli, 8 Seymour Street, is the glamorous Italian restaurant in which Chris's infidelity is almost uncovered when a friend recalls seeing him hail a taxi near Nola's flat.
Chris’s life continues to get more complicated when he gets engaged to Chloe. Nola is surprised to see him coming out of jeweller Asprey, 165-169 New Bond Street – since he'd told her he was on holiday in Sardinia. In fact, Chris always seems to be caught leaving expensive shops in this movie. He gets the chance to boast his good fortune when he bumps into old tennis opponent Henry (Rupert Penry Jones) as he exits another jeweller, Cartier, 175-176 New Bond Street.
There’s no need for Nola to be so apologetic about the flat into which she moves. The good news is it’s 64-84 Clarence Gate Gardens, a classy block on Glentworth Street between Marylebone Station and Baker Street, and within minutes of Regent’s Park. Not too bad for a struggling actress. The bad news? Chris is on his way to rid himself of his increasingly inconvenient past.
Dominating Cambridge Circus is the huge red brick and faience frontage of the Palace Theatre. Built in 1890 as an opera house for Richard D’Oyly Carte, it’s traditionally the home of long-running musicals (the illuminated signs for Flower Drum Song can be seen in Victim). Chris scoots across town in a cab to meet fiancée Chloe to catch a performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, at the Palace, after bumping off his pregnant lover. The theatre was temporarily transformed into the exterior of the ‘St James Theatre’, at which Lady Windermere’s Fan premières in Wilde, with Stephen Fry as the flamboyant playwright.
Chris throws incriminating evidence into the Thames on Queen's Walk at the end of Hopton Street, beneath Blackfriars Bridge. Gone now are the tennis-style ‘netting’ (added for the movie) and the image of a little girl carrying a red balloon by guerrilla graffiti artist Banksy. This corner isn’t always as secluded as Chris finds it. You’re likely to be caught up in crowds visiting the Tate Modern, which, as you can probably tell, was originally Bankside Power Station. While the more famous old Battersea Power Station stumbled from one failed scheme to another, Bankside streaked ahead to a new, wildly successful lease of life as Tate Modern. Chris had earlier bumped into Nola in the gallery.
The Tate has another identity imaginatively bestowed on it in Richard Loncraine’s Thirties-set Richard III, where it becomes the ‘Tower of London’, a massively intimidating Eastern European-style prison. It was the villain’s ‘Kenworth Laboratories’ in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, while the vast Turbine Hall became the interior of the ‘Ark of the Arts’ for Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men (as a kind of consolation prize, the exterior is poor old Battersea Power Station). Of course, it’s really all sweetness and light inside, with stunning exhibition spaces and a not-bad café. Stop for a little refreshment, like Bridget (Renée Zellweger) and chums, who hang out here in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
How much more high-profile can you get than the undulating profile of the apartment complex overlooking the traffic island at the southern end of Lambeth Bridge, where doting (and rich) daddy Alec Hewett installs his daughter Chloe and son-in-law Chris? If the floor to ceiling glazing is not ostentatious enough for you, why not rub it in by calling the whole shebang Parliament View Apartments? In the words of The Producers’ Max Bialystock, “When you've got it, flaunt it!”. As poor Nola finds out, this really is an apartment to die for.