Written & Directed by Stephen Belber
Starring Patrick Stewart, Matthew Lillard and Carla Gugino
Now on DVD and Digital Release

by Bernie C. Byrnes

This film is slow, very slow, and nothing really happens. If you think that means it’s a bad film, you’d be wrong; this is, in fact, a quietly brilliant film. Or at least it is unequivocally a good film but would be an even better stage play, which is my only criticism of Match. Don’t get me wrong, it translates well onto the screen but everything about it – its quiet depth, the claustrophobic setting of one café and one room in an apartment, its impressively talented cast of three – make this story feel that writer/director Stephen Belber has chosen the wrong medium for it. Personally I was relieved it was a film because I cried my eyes out but I also kept expecting something dramatically awful to happen – the sort of thing that happens in films: suicide, violence, aliens landing – nothing like that does. Instead Match depicts a not uncommon tale of the sort that happens in ordinary life to ordinary people.

Tobi Powell (Patrick Stewart) is a master dance teacher at Juilliard with a lifetime of memories, having travelled the world as a renowned choreographer. He is interviewed by a young couple, Lisa (Carla Gugino) and Mike (Matthew Lillard), for what was meant to be a dissertation about his days with dance, an interview during which he is unexpectedly forced to confront painful decisions he thought he had left in the past.

The relationship is ‘all’ in this film and there is a healthy dose of wish fulfillment, which I suspect is why the predictable but sad denouement is so moving. Strangely the very fact that the film ends on a painful but hopeful note – with the distinct feeling that everything will be better for everyone from now on – makes this film even more heartrending.

Match is a bittersweet and poignant tale, which stays with you long after you have finished watching it.

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