A writer, director and sometimes actor who’s enjoyed considerably more success abroad than in his own country but is nevertheless regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and able to attract big names to his projects, Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) is an incredibly prolific and rythmic worker, churning out one film a year like clockwork. Melinda And Melinda marks his 2004 offering, though it was released in 2005 in numerous countries.
Actually two stories in one (thus the title), the film has two playwrights arguing about whether life at its core is tragic or comic. One of their friends thus suggests a challenge by setting the premise of a troubled woman crashing a dinner party and asking whether the subsequent events would evolve into a tragedy or a comedy. Naturally, we see both options unfold at the same time.
As is common for Woody Allen films, Melinda And Melinda stars a substantial amount of notable people including Radha Mitchell (The Children Of Huang Shi), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Redbelt), Will Ferrell (Step Brothers), Jonny Lee Miller (Aeon Flux), Amanda Peet (The X-Files: I Want To Believe), Chloë Sevigny (Zodiac), Wallace Shawn (Kit Kittredge: An American Girl), Josh Brolin (American Gangster) and Steve Carrell (Get Smart) among others. Trailer and review after the jump.
Despite a very interesting concept, and good performances by the whole cast, Melinda And Melinda manages to be only a so-so film, mostly due to its lacking script. Indeed, the movie’s big problem is that its so-called “tragic” storyline isn’t tragic enough and the supposedly “comic” storyline isn’t funny enough to really sustain the viewer’s interest.
Melinda And Melinda thus joins the numerous other Allen films that are certainly watchable and mildly enjoyable, but actually nothing really special. Thus, Allen fans will probably like it, but the casual viewer may want to skip it. As a matter of interest however, it can be seen as a transition piece for Allen between the decidedly light Anything Else and the decidedly dark masterpiece Match Point.
As with most Woody Allen films, Melinda And Melinda didn’t make a whole lot of money, at least in the US, which may or may not have played a part in Allen making his next four films in Europe. For a truly enjoyable movie with a slightly similar concept, I’d suggest you watch the superior 1998 British film Sliding Doors instead.