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London Drama For Woody Allen

American actress Scarlett Johansson, left, Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyer, second left, American director Woody Allen, second right, and British Emily Mortimer, right, pose during a photo call for their film "Match Point", out of competition, during the 58th international Cannes film festival in Cannes, southern France, Thursday May 12, 2005.
AP
Woody Allen came to the Cannes Film Festival to confess. Turns out the quintessential Manhattan filmmaker is an Anglophile at heart.

Allen had such a good time shooting "Match Point," his first film set in London, that he's shooting a second movie in the British capital this summer.

"I'm used to working in Manhattan in summer time, and the weather is very, very hot and oppressive," said Allen, at Cannes for Thursday's premiere of "Match Point," starring Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Emily Mortimer. "The weather in London is cool and the skies are gray, so it's perfect for me. So I just couldn't wait to get back there and do it again."

"Match Point" also marks Allen's most dramatic turn in years, following a string of comedies and this year's hybrid comic-tragic tale "Melinda and Melinda."

Rhys Meyers stars as an Irish tennis pro from humble roots who is groomed for better things by an upper-crust English family, landing a job in their corporation and marrying the daughter (Mortimer).

His success is jeopardized by an affair with his brother-in-law's ex-fiancee (Johansson), a flighty American seductress futilely pursuing an acting career in London. The measures he takes to resolve the crisis hark back to the scenario of Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors," in which a character gets away with murder, morally castigates himself for his deeds, then finds his guilt simply dissipates with time.

Allen said his viewpoint is not gloomy, but truthful.

"I feel that it's very clear to every thinking person that there's a gigantic amount of injustice and overt crimes that are perpetrated in all walks of life, every day, from emotional crimes to physical crimes to international crimes, that go absolutely unpunished and often very lavishly rewarded," Allen said. "So I don't think that my point of view on it is cynical. I think it is an accurate perspective on it."

The 69-year-old Allen, whose films rarely grab mainstream audiences, has found a lukewarm critical and commercial reception to his recent flicks.

He has phased himself out of lead roles in the last three, playing a supporting role in "Anything Else" and remaining off-camera for "Melinda and Melinda" and "Match Point." Those three movies also featured younger casts than Allen's typical middle-aged protagonists, including leading ladies Christina Ricci and Radha Mitchell.

Allen's next London tale also will star Johansson, the first time since his years with Mia Farrow he has featured the same lead actress twice in a row.

Johansson was demure about whether she was following in the footsteps of past Allen muses Farrow and Diane Keaton.

"I don't know about being his muse," Johansson said. "But I'm glad to be working together again."
By DAVID GERMAIN