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Two Stories, Two Sides, One Woman

Published March 20, 2005 in Movie News
By Bubba Craner | Image from Melinda and Melinda
Melinda and Melinda Melinda and Melinda
Sophisticatedly humorous screenwriter/director, Woody Allen is awaiting mass consensus on his latest feature film, Melinda and Melinda, which released Friday at Lincoln Plaza Theater in New York City and is scheduled for a broader, though still limited release on March 23rd.

Melinda and Melinda

Allen has built a career on portraying bourgeois characters facing the troubles of personal conflict, infidelity and romance, or lack there of. Melinda and Melinda sure seems to fit the bill of stereotypical Allen, however, and with this film begging the question of comedy and tragedy and how a single situation can be seen as either, this film may land in a neutral territory which is anything but Allen; on the other hand maybe it is traditional Allen, just in a more paradoxical way.

Melinda and Melinda opens in the midst of a Manhattan dinner party, and among the chardonnay sipping socialites, a debate about comedy and tragedy strikes up. This is the springboard for the story of Melinda (Radha Mitchell), who is a recently divorced wreck and recently was revoked of her custody over her children. Allen depicts this story through the lens of comedy and tragedy.

Tragic Melinda is seen crashing a dinner party shattered by pills and alcohol, and disrupts her actor friend Lee's (Johnny Lee Miller) attempt at impressing a producer, whom he has invited. Melinda's story here is that after the loss of custody over her children, she moved to New York and picked up a relationship with the prospering composer, Ellis Moonsong (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Though Melinda finds nothing prosperous about this relationship.

Comic Melinda again is seen crashing a dinner party, and has the same sad story of divorce and loss of child custody, however this Melinda is not pitied, she is encouraged. Arriving in the same state of tatteredness, the hosts Susan (Amanda Peet) and Hobie (Will Ferrell) decide to fix her up with a charming young dentist. However, as a staple of Allen's, Melinda has a secret admirer, which plays out all associating effects of infidelity.

Though this film has only seen two days of public exposure, it is already finding criticism as being too neutral. Thereby suggesting that Allen has actually not taken much of a stance on making this film a comic tragedy or a tragic comedy. However I like to think that it is precisely there that is proclaiming Allen's Allen-esc-isism. It seems to me that Allen has appropriately left the audience to decide exactly how they interpret the scenario, and in so doing he is voicing his social agenda-asking individuals to personally examine whether they are innately positive (as in the view of Melinda as a comedy), or innately negative (as in the view of Melinda as a tragedy.)

Check out the Melinda and Melinda trailer.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Bubba Craner
Sources: Image from Melinda and Melinda

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