MELINDA AND MELINDA

Starring:
Wallace Shawn, Neil Pepe, Stephanie Roth Haberle, Larry Pine, Radha Mitchell, Jonny Lee Miller, ChloŽ Sevigny, Brooke Smith, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Will Ferrell

Writer/Director:
Woody Allen

Running Time:
100 mins

"That's so great"

Hobie

As four friends sat in a restaurant, one of the them fledgling writer, one a successful writer of comedy and the other specialising in tragedy, the writer take it in turn to inject both comedy and tragedy into the young writers premise. So now we see the story of Melinda (Mitchell) from two different writing perspectives, showing how she deals with trying to straighten out her life.

Writing and directing a movie every single year is now mean feat but this is something at Woody Allen has done since 1971 but can 'Melinda and Melinda' capture the same magic as some of his more memorable and critically acclaimed hits?

Woody Allen is a film intuition and can be labelled as a 'legend' in the business. Any writer/director who has films like 'Manhattan', 'Hannah and Her Sisters', 'Annie Hall', 'Mighty Aphrodite' and so on has earned the right to be given such an accolade. Amongst those cinematic classics have been some average and some just plain entertaining movies. 'Melinda and Melinda' falls into the entertaining category.

As with most Allen films, the premise is always an interesting one. Here we have two writers sat at a restaurant table improvising a story based on a premise proposed by a friend. As the two writers explain their take on the premise, we see each version acted out, one a comedy and the other a tragedy. The only thing linking the two is the character of Melinda. In the tragedy she is a long lost high school friend of Laurel, who turns up out of the blue after a bitter break up with her husband. In the comedy she is a neighbour of Hobie and Susan who turns up on their doorstep after taking an overdose of sleeping pills after a really bad break up. The tragedy sees Melinda's life slowly getting back together again and then falling apart. While the comedy see her neighbour fall in love with her and his jealously as she tries to move on with her life. Each of these stories has similar themes but the context of each of the writer's takes on the character's predictament makes them very different. This is where the problem starts.

While the comedic story is very strong and appealing to the audience, the tragedy doesn't quite have the same impact. The actors in both storylines are very good, especially Will Ferrell as Hobie in the comedy, a part that Woody himself would have played years earlier, but the tragedy cast don't seem to draw you in as much as the comedic cast do.

The actress linking the two stories together is Radha Mitchell. The Australian actress has always shown a lot of promise and this role really give her the chance to shine. She is a complete mess and slight disturbed in the tragedy and is very sweet and loveable in the comedy, as she in essence brings to the screen two versions of the same character. This is a role that will get her noticed.

'Melinda and Melinda' is an entertaining movie with a good premise that just doesn't live up to its potential. The performances are excellent however, and while the tragedy premise isn't as good as the comedic one, this is still a good but not one of Woody's best and his standards are very high.

PICTURE & SOUND

Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the movie is presented well.

OVERALL

As with all Woody Allen DVD releases, there are no DVD special features at all. All you get is the film and to be fair, if this is what the director wants then who are we to argue. Fans of the great man will buy this anyway but they will be dreaming of the day when Woody gives them a commentary track or even a making of featurette.

Any Woody Allen Film


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2005