Woody Allen disappoints critics and fans yet again with Melinda and Melinda, which does at least have a clever premise. In a dinnertime conversation between friends, two storytellers (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) debate the nature of a fictional scenario. The story in question concerns a disturbed woman who wrecks her marriage and descends into depression. The storytellers argue, is this the material for a comedy or a tragedy? We watch the story play out through two different treatments. Actress Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black, Finding Neverland) plays the troubled, troublemaking Melinda in both versions, but joins a completely different cast in each—including Brooke Smith, Chiwetel Ejiofor, ChloëSevigny, Amanda Peet, Jonny Lee Miller, and Will Ferrell in a role remarkably similar to the characters Woody Allen himself usually plays.
Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) says this "is not the film to change Woody Allen's unfortunate losing streak. Among the myriad problems with Allen's screenplay is that the comic portions are scarcely funnier than the more dramatic version, and the parallel stories are only fitfully interesting. In spite of all the opening talk about the meaning of life and so forth, the material feels wafer-thin."
Melinda gets the mainstream treatment here.from Film Forum, 04/07/05
Andrew Coffin (World) says, "The value in Mr. Allen's films was once found in a willingness both to take seriously and ridicule varying philosophies and belief systems. Fully understood or not, ideas had consequences. But from the weakly deconstructed setup to an even weaker eat-drink-and-be-merry finale, not much about Melinda communicates a similar intellectual rigor."from Film Forum, 05/05/05
Josh Hurst (Reveal) says, "It's watching the twists and turns of the two-pronged plot that makes Melinda and Melinda such a delight. As these two tales of mysterious strangers, fractured relationships, and infidelity unfold, it's often startling and surprising to see how the two compare and contrast. [Director Woody Allen's] skills as a storyteller come dangerously close to genius territory here."