Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Melinda and Melinda (2005)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Woody Allen's filmography recently began to resemble EXERCISES IN STYLE, the book by French author Raymond Queneau (1903-1976). The book is comprised of the same simple and banal story told in 99 different ways. In his 2005 film MELINDA AND MELINDA Allen uses the same concept by having a similar tale told in two different ways.

The plot begins when two playwrights - Sy (played by Wallace Shawn) and Max (played by Larry Pine) - meet in restaurant and begin discussion about whether tragedy or comedy represents better artistic approach towards life. They decide to use the plot that begins with Melinda (played by Radha Mitchell) crashing at Manhattan party held by her old college friend. The plot would branch, one becoming depressive drama, another developing into standard romantic comedy.

Just like in many Woody Allen's films made recently, finding the plot "gimmick" seems to exhaust all of Allen's creativity and what the audience is left with is soulless, boring and predictable slice of life of neurotic New York intellectuals, laced with occasional outburst of humour that doesn't improve general impression of the whole piece. In MELINDA AND MELINDA having two instead of one story makes things even more difficult for the audience, because viewers often have to determine which scene belongs to which plot. If not for Will Ferrell playing one of the protagonists, the romantic comedy plot is hard to set apart from drama plot. Ferrell shows some of his talent only at the end, providing some laughs. Unfortunately, this is isn't enough for MELINDA AND MELINDA to be anything than merely watchable and another sad example of Allen drifting away from his reputation of quality filmmaker.

RATING: 4/10 (+)


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