A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
“Match” opens with an assured Patrick Stewart instructing a group of female ballet dancers on the main floor (I presume) of the Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio at Julliard. The windows give a splendid view of some distinguished architecture in wintry Manhattan. One might be apt to wonder, as one watches, what the title “Match” has to do with ballet.
Wrapping up at the studio, Stewart’s character, Tobi, begs off on a dinner invite from a colleague and goes to his well-appointed home. After a standard-issue montage of NYC real estate porn and glimpses of framed photographs of a superstar life in the ballet (very well Photoshopped, I must say, unless Stewart himself had occasion to put on the tights in his own work), the movie settles in as Tobi visits a favorite Spanish restaurant and prepares to meet Lisa (Carla Gugino), an aspiring dance historian working on a dissertation. In an unusual move, this researcher has brought along her husband, a taciturn cop (with a Village People-worthy cop mustache, even) named Mike. The bluff, voluble, nervously chatty Tobi holds forth on wine and work and more until it becomes evident, once the trio’s decamped back to Tobi’s apartment, that the couple are not who they seem.
That’s where the title comes in and makes sense. Lisa’s really a put-upon spouse trying to help an angry partner who believes he was abandoned by his dad. Tobi, although a gay man, is a prime suspect in the dad department. After the oodles of erudite, feinting banter—“rigor, it’s about the rigor,” Tobi says of his craft and profession, but when his interlocuters inquire about the sexual mores of the ‘60s in which he came up, he dryly says “so, you want to know about the f**king,” and until he learns of Lisa and Mike’s ruse, he’s more than eager to dish—it’s clear that the “match” is what Mike and Lisa seek, as in DNA.
“Why on earth didn’t you ask this from right out?” Tobi demands, enraged. But after a shocking act of violation, he resumes an avuncular mode, treating Lisa to some compassion and wisdom while trying to calculate how he should deal with the potential of late fatherhood.
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