After the triumph of last year’s brilliantly nihilistic Match Point Woody Allen returns to very familiar ground with Scoop. Again set in London, Scoop is classic Allen – light comedy with a murder mystery plot, supernatural themes and enough jokes about sex, death, psychoanalysis and philosophy to keep fans happy.
Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) is an American journalism student investigating a serial killer after being given an exclusive tip by the ghost of an acclaimed reporter. Chief suspect is aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) with whom Sondra rapidly falls in love, much to the disapproval of shonky magician Sid Waterman (Allen) who reluctantly helps Sondra by posing as her father.
This is a no-frills approach to filmmaking where story and style are simply used to facilitate the gags. Jackman is not given much to work with and despite her best efforts Johansson does not really suit the wise-cracking and slightly neurotic lead female personae that characterises so many of Allen’s films – especially when compared to past Allen leading ladies such as Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and Judy Davis. But Allen himself is in fine form and provides enough laugh-out-loud one-liners to make Scoop a worthwhile trip to the cinema.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 275, 2007