Melinda and Melinda
"Melinda and Melinda" reminded me a little bit of Hal Hartley's "Flirt" in that it seemed less like a film and more like a creative exercise and it really annoyed me. If Allen or Hartley or whoever wants to work out their creative problems, I suggest they do it without making me waste my time.
This film starts out as a dinner conversation between friends. Two of them are playwrights. One does comedy. The other does tragedy. Together, they each tell a version of the same story with a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) at the center. Naturally, one is a comedy and one is a tragedy. What binds the stories together is that they're both pretty boring.
In the story where Melinda is a mess, she shows up at Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) and Lee's (Jonny Lee Miller) house and announces she needs a place to stay. This Melinda has just tried to commit suicide, is barred from seeing her children, and reveals that she actually murdered somebody. That her friends actually try to hook her up with somebody seems downright irresponsible. In the second story, Melinda is a neighbor of Susan (Amanda Peet) and Hobie (Will Ferrell). Since Hobie and Susan's marriage is on the rocks, Hobie falls for Melinda.
This is yet another film where Woody Allen directs one of the actors to do a Woody Allen impression throughout the film. That's not direction; it's abuse, and in this case, Ferrell's the victim. Even if it were mildly amusing to watch a Kenneth Branagh or a Jason Biggs or a Will Ferrell do an impression of Woody Allen, it's really something one should only have to see once, lest long-term psychological damage ensue.
It's no secret that Allen has become tedious in recent years. Allen doesn't have to love life or anything about it, but when that misery just eats away at his characters like some kind of bacteria, it gets old. The relationships in this film are miserable. It's just a litany of cheating and various sickening human interactions; not the kind that are violent, but the kind that are basically Allen's attempt to rub the audience's face in the fact that life beats us down.
If that sounds like a good time, then by all means buy yourself a ticket.
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