FBMR - Melinda and Melinda
Film-Buff Movie Reviews


MELINDA AND MELINDA (2004) ***

Thank you Woody Allen! Youíve restored my faith in your writing.

Unfortunately, many of Woody Allenís films of late have had great trailers, and great premises, but would often not live up to eitherís potential. But with MELINDA & MELINDA, he seems to have returned to his writing style of the 1970s and 1980s.

The film opens with a group of friends discussing the root of human behaviour. An anecdotal scenario is outlined. One sees the situations in a comedic nature, and another sees the same situations as tragedy. Which is right, which would make the most interesting or entertaining story, which direction should the story go? Woody Allen takes us on both of these journeys; weaving two very similar stories and allowing us to see both of them unfold almost simultaneously.

The one constant is the central character, Melinda (Radha Mitchell), a self-destructive woman down on her luck. In the tragedy, she drops in on some old friends who take her in and try to help her get back on her feet. They try to set her up with a dentist, but she meets a musician. Inevitably, infidelity and a love-triangle ensue. In the comedy, Melinda is subletting an apartment and drops in on her unsuspecting neighbours. They find her charming and try to set her up with a dentist. The comedy also includes a musician, infidelity, and a love-triangle, but played for laughs instead of drama.

Again, a great concept, and it lived up to my expectations. Personally, I liked the comedy better, but maybe thatís because I can identify with that genre better, with slapstick and snappy writing. Allen has been able to successfully blend his dark writing style of such films as CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with his comedic style, very reminiscent of PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM and ANNIE HALL. I liked some of the role reversals that help differentiate the tragedy from the comedy, and I also liked that neither the tragedy nor the comedy had any of the same actors, except for Melinda. And what a tremendous job Mitchell did playing the same character two quite different ways. Will Ferrell, played the Woody Allen character/alter-ego very well, and added his own personal comedic touches to his role.

Both stories come to their own conclusions, yet unlike SLIDING DOORS, another film with dual storylines, there isnít one right or wrong ending. Both endings are valid and equally satisfying for their respective stories.