Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Movie Review (Melinda and Melinda)...

Melinda and Melinda

Melinda and Melinda is Woody Allen’s thirty sixth feature film in as many years. Hit and miss in recent times, with the likes of ‘Anything Else’ and ‘The Curse of the Jade Scorpion’, Allen seems to have returned to form with this latest offering. Over a meal in a New York restaurant, a pair of writers and their fellow diner’s, argue back and forth about their take on the essence of life, encouraging one another to chip in with their views along the way. Is the essence of life comic or tragic? For arguments sake, one of the diners tells the tale of a mysterious woman who shows up out of the blue at a dinner party one evening. Two of the writers then take us through the tale, one adopting a tragic tone, the other comic, with both interpretations played out through the titular character.

Radha Mitchell’s (‘Man on Fire’, ‘Pitch Black’) central performance is the key to understanding the significance of Allen’s cross-genre script. It is crucial for the audience to buy her character as both a suicidal, depressed hopeless case, and at the same time, a more traditional romantic-comedy heroine whose inevitable success with love, cushions the occasional falls from grace along the way. Mitchell is ably supported by the dramatic talents of Chloe Sevigny (Melinda’s lifelong friend Laurel) and Chiwetel Ejiofer (love interest, Ellis Moonsong) and the comedic talents of Will Ferrell and Amanda Peet, as a couple drifting apart, offering Melinda refuge in their home.

An interesting and thought provoking central concept will hold your attention all the way through, but it is down to personal taste whether one is more satisfied by one take on the story or the other. As the stories progressed though, it became apparent that, on that particular day, the comedic story arc was the clear winner. Effectively, two movies for the price of one, Melinda and Melinda is a satisfying slice of movie entertainment, which uniquely caters to both the die hard romantic and world weary cynic.

4 out of 5