Match – A beautiful film featuring a masterful performance
Written and directed by: Stephen Belber
Tobi Powell is a dance professor at Juilliard who is deeply committed to his art and his students. Outside of the academy he is socially withdrawn and very eccentric. Tobi agrees to be interviewed by Lisa (Gugino) and her husband Mike (Lillard) for Lisa’s dissertation on the social history of dance. They meet up at a restaurant and begin the taped questioning, but once back at Tobi’s apartment the questions take a new, more suspicious turn. Slowly, Tobi realizes that the couple has hidden motives behind wanting to interview him.
“Match” (based on the 2004 play of the same name) is Stephen Belber’s first attempt at directing a movie based on his own work. For me, it was a success. He created a well-paced, well thought out film that is lifted into a great film by his actors’ performances. Gugino gives an emotionally deep showing as Lisa, and is as lovely and graceful as ever. Lillard also turns in an excellent performance that is very layered, but it is Patrick Stewart who gives a tour de force. You can immediately tell that this role was meant for him, and he loves it. He runs the gamut from odd to funny to shamed and finally touching in what I would say is his best cinematic performance yet.
Belber’s script is a strong one, and reminiscent of the one he wrote for the 2001 Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman drama “Tape”. Like “Tape”, “Match” takes place largely in one room with only the three characters, but it never lags and I never lost interest. All of the elements that make a good movie are here, and they all blend well. At the end of the day though, if for no other reason, see this movie to see Patrick Stewart at his best. It is a sight to behold.