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May 16, 2005

Melinda and Melinda

2004.USA.Allen

1.0 / 4.0

Woody Allen’s slump continues with Melinda and Melinda, an amateurish novelty film that tries to prove the close relationship between tragedy and comedy. Made up of a frame and two narratives (one comic and one tragic) joined by a main character you want to bitch slap, it makes one wonder what happened to the filmmaker behind Crimes and Misdemeanours and Hannah and Her Sisters and if he’s ever going to come back.

Beginning with the first scene, the film disrupts any potential rhythm through terrible editing that culminates in a dissolve to a restaurant conversation that sounds like an aging Allen talking to himself. The artificial tone remains and the cast is never natural or convincing while exchanging titbits about classical music, theatre and small, candlelit restaurants. Annie Hall and Mickey Sachs would avoid these characters and Michael Caine and Diane Keaton could act circles around the actors playing them.

In the end, neither the comedy is comic enough (with the notable exception of Will Ferrell’s antics) nor tragedy tragic enough (with affairs, murders, and mental asylums kept unexplainably off screen) to equate the two as anything other than mundane. It doesn’t help that everything in the film is a rehash of other, better Allen films. The only notion Melinda and Melinda truly proves is that comedy and tragedy can both suck.

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