Melinda and Melinda (2005)
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Review Date: April 12, 2005
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson
Mitchell as Melinda
Will Ferrell as Hobie
Chloe Sevigny as Laurel
This film features two parallel storylines about a similar circumstance in which a strange woman interrupts a handful of upper-class folk having a dinner party and proceeds to take part in their lives over the next little while. One of the tales is told from a comedic perspective, while the other, from a tragic point of view. Will Ferrell with a role in a Woody Allen movie…ensues.
I’m a pretty big fan of Woody Allen. Granted, I love his 80s stuff most of all, and his back-to-back-to-back pacing during the 90s seems to have diminished the potency of his films and their jokes, but overall, I’m not exactly sure what it is, but the guy’s movies just reel me in most of the time, whether good or bad. I guess it’s the basic upper-society New York neurotic and literal-based white folk set-up that intrigues me, likely because I’m a middle-class Canuck with little neuroses, even less book knowledge and a tan. I also appreciate films about relationships, and at the end of the day, most of his films are exactly about that – that and the human condition. MELINDA & MELINDA is yet another staple example of a “typical Woody Allen movie” containing a variety of upper-echelon NY socialites, many of whom quote Chekov and make reference to the Nuremberg trial (and apparently drink like fish…wow!), while others take “personal ads” out in newspapers. For those who appreciate Allen and his menagerie of lofty-dialogue speakers and perpetual cheaters, you’re likely to enjoy this slight variation on his previous work, with two tales being told from separate points of view: one comedic and one tragic. For those who don’t appreciate Allen, and have always found him and his work to be annoying, pretentious or extremely insular onto itself, well, I really don’t think this film is likely to change your mind about the man or his work, despite the inclusion of one Will Ferrell into the mix. Actually, even though he did a pretty good job in the movie (he was basically playing the “Woody Allen role” with all of the best one-liners), I thought Ferrell looked sorta out of place among the New York movers and shakers.

Everyone else was pretty good, particularly Radha Mitchell, who had the difficult task of starring in both variations of the story, a part she handled commendably. Nobody else truly stood out in the cast, but I did find that some people weren’t able to deliver Allen’s sometimes-very-wordy dialogue and make it sound as realistic as Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Diane Keaton or Alan Alda used to. The film’s look and feel was as New York and cozy as per most of Allen’s films, as well as his use of soundtrack, which tied everything together nicely. As for the stories themselves, well, they were definitely interesting to watch, as elements from one played into the other, and both stories and characters were generally engaging, but I’m not really sure if either comic or tragic version would have made a complete and fulfilling film on its own, so I guess it was an inspired idea for him to have created this little weave between his most famous cinematic topics. The film is a simple one to review since its relevance to you is tied directly into your own enjoyment of the director’s previous works. If you dig on Woody, you’re likely to get some enjoyment out of this film, which scores a little higher than most of his sub-par 90s movies, but if you’ve never enjoyed the man’s output, this film is not likely to change your mind. PS: For anyone wondering, actress Chloe Sevigny does not insert a penis into her mouth and suck on it at end of this picture as she did in THE BROWN BUNNY. Just an FYI.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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