Match Point

Inciting Event: After being invited to his rich tennis pupil’s family home, Chris meets and is instantly attracted to the American actress wannabe Nola, who is his pupil Tom’s fiancée. This is also where he begins a relationship with Tom’s desperately earnest sister Chloe. This is a nice intertwining of the two side of Chris’s conflict: his desire for security and success in a relationship with the sweet and well-connected Chloe and his carnal desire for the alluring but off-limits Nola.

First Plot Point: While on holiday at the family home, Chris takes advantage of Nola’s distress—after her fight with Tom’s mother—and begins an affair with her. She considers it a one-time mistake and resists him when he tries to continue the relationship. Even though the timing here is pretty late for the First Plot Point, this is Chris’s first definitive step into the “adventure world” of the double life he will lead in pursuing his relationship with both Chloe and with Nola.

First Pinch Point: After Nola rejects him, Chris marries Chloe. This is a nicely stated pinch point. It’s subtle, but it turns the plot and does a fabulous job of not just illustrating but amping the obstacles between Chris and his goal of being with Nola. It’s nicely reinforced in a subsequent scene when Tom reveals he’s broken off his engagement with Nola after meeting someone new. Nola is now free—but Chris isn’t.

Midpoint: Some time later, Chris runs into Nola and convinces her, against her better judgment, to give him her phone number. They begin an affair in earnest. Here, we see a definitive shift from reaction to action Chris’s part. He’s now chasing relentlessly after what he wants.

Second Pinch Point: Nola reveals to Chris that she is pregnant. This becomes a particularly nice bit of irony in light of the fact that Chloe has spent her entire marriage to Chris desperate to have a baby. Now Chris is truly thrust upon the horns of his dilemma. He realizes everything he stands to lose—his marriage, his job, his posh flat, the financial “safety net” promised by his adoring father-in-law—if he leaves Chloe for Nola. He tries to convince Nola to get an abortion, but she refuses and demands he leave Chloe for her. He begins a series of delaying actions, as he realizes ever more strongly that his lifestyle with Chloe is more important to him than is Nola.

Third Plot Point: Chris kills Nola’s elderly neighbor and steals her drugs and jewelry. Using the neighbor’s death as cover, he then kills Nola as she’s returning home. This is a great tragic Third Plot Point. Not only is there death a-plenty (both the murders and the symbolic death of Chris’s conscience), but it’s also a tremendous low moment of Chris himself. He is shaken to his core. He has destroyed not just Nola’s and the neighbor’s lives, but also his own.

Climax: The police bring Chris in for questioning. After Nola’s murder, the question in the conflict is no longer whether Chris will be found out for his affair, but whether or not he will be found out as a murderer (note how the narrative maintains its cohesion by still making the conflict all about will Chris be found out?). He admits to the affair, and the police promise to be discreet in their inquiries. They release him, even though one of the detectives has a hunch Chris is guilty.

Climactic Moment: The lead detective returns to work the next morning, determined to pursue the possibility that Chris is the murderer—only to learn the neighbor lady’s wedding ring was discovered in the possession of a dead drug dealer. Chris had tried to throw the ring into the river earlier, only to have it bounce against a railing and remain ashore. The police feel the murder case is now open-and-shut and they close it. Chris goes scot-free.

Resolution: Chris and Chloe have a baby.

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