Review: Woody Allen’s COUP DE CHANCE Is A Twisty & Surprising Thriller

3 out of 5 stars

Swapping his beloved New York for Paris, Woody Allen is again behind the camera for Coup de Chance (Stroke Of Luck) – his 50th feature film as writer-director. This time, not only is the famed auteur in a different city (although it’s not his first time in the City of Lights), but he’s also working in a different language – Coup de Chance is Allen’s first French-language film. Allen isn’t fluent in the language, he wrote the screenplay and then it was translated into French. The script seems to work and doesn’t appear to be incongruous. 

Playing with Allen’s usual themes of relationships, infidelity, and neurosis, it’s difficult to talk too much about the plot in Coup de Chance because it will ruin some of the film’s twists and turns. The basic set-up is that Lou de Laâge’s Fanny falls into a relationship with Alain (Niels Schneider), a young writer returning to Paris after years away. There’s just one problem: Fanny is married to Melvil Poupaud’s Jean, a rich businessman with a shady past. Will young love blossom, or will things take a darker turn? 

Allen’s last couple of movies have seemed like the director on autopilot. While they were far from terrible, both Rifkin’s Festival and the Timothée Chalamet comedy, A Rainy Day In New York, lacked a certain sparkle and felt like they were a couple of drafts away from being ready to go before cameras. 

Coup de Chance is an entertaining dramatic thriller and it’s one of Allen’s better recent efforts. This Parisian pic has echoes of the London-set Match Point and a hint of Manhattan Murder Mystery. It’s not as good as that dark Scarlett Johansson starrer or the zingy Allen/Diane Keaton doubleheader. Having said that, it does feature strong performances from de Laâge, Schneider, Poupaud and Valérie Lemercier, as well as some interesting narrative turns. This all helps to make it an intriguing and somewhat unpredictable piece. 

Surprisingly, Coup de Chance’s biggest flaw is usually one of the high marks of any Woody Allen film – the music. The jaunty jazz standards might work in a film with a lighter tone, but they’re out of place in this more dramatic work. It cheapens the film, making it sound like it was thrown together with cheap public-domain music rather than carefully selected musical cues – although I’m sure that’s not the case. 

It’s far from top-tier Woody Allen, but Coup de Chance is an intriguing 90-minute diversion. Some surprising twists and characterisation ensure that it’s far from boring. All-in-all that’s pretty impressive considering that Allen is now only two years shy of turning 90!