Melinda and Melinda
In his usual quirky style, Woody Allen wrote and directed this comedic drama about sophisticated New Yorkers who reflect his own insecurities about life and relationships. Two playwrights (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) engage in a lively conversation about how one simply stated situation can develop into either a comedy or a tragedy. Three fictional couples are interrupted at a private dinner party when distraught Melinda (Radha Mitchell) rings the doorbell. To the comedic writer, she is a new neighbor locked out of her apartment. To the tragic writer, she is a desperate old friend of the wives, Susan (Amanda Peet), Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) and Cassie (Brooke Smith), whose past includes drugs, divorce and mental illness. In both scenarios, the three wives decide that Melinda’s dilemma can be solved by introducing her to an unattached man, but she is drawn to another (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
I enjoyed how this movie was approached, presenting the two stories as a split narrative. Mr. Allen also shows his creativeness through how his characters endure many similar situations in each narrative. However, other than some Will Ferrell antics I did not find this film very entertaining. This dims a strong performance by Radha Mitchell.
Mitchell’s portrayal of a broken down, tense woman in the tragic narrative convinces me that she could be a big hit in the future. Overall, though, I don’t recommend this film. There was so much cigarette smoking by Melinda in this film that I felt like I needed some Nicorette gum. I cannot think of a single scene where she does not have a cancer stick plugged between her lips. There are also many scenes where alcohol is consumed, particularly by Melinda. Extramarital affairs weave themselves into the storyline as a spouse in both narratives desires and begins a relationship with another person. This film does not resemble anything close to family entertainment.