It’s all been said before – Woody Allen’s best years are over, and his films (whilst always entertaining) will never come close to the greats like Annie Hall. His last two features didn’t even make it to the cinema here in Australia, and it’s possibly only because of the presence of Radha Mitchell that Melinda And Melinda does.
Thankfully this screen outing is much better than some of his recent work (Hollywood Ending was a particularly low point, basically being a one joke film). The premise is interesting but really it’s the dialogue that works a charm in Allen’s films. The entire cast work magnificently here, particularly Will Ferrell who puts in an impressively restrained performance (at least compared to his usual wacky hijinks). Usually when Allen doesn’t star in his own film he simply gets someone else to play his traditional neurotic character (think Michael Caine in Hannah And Her Sisters), but Ferrell manages to be something more than simply an Allen substitute.
Radha Mitchell does a great job, and I’ve been waiting for her career to explode for many years now – maybe this will do the trick. Brooke Smith gives a particularly impressive performance, Chloë Sevigny was disappointingly bland in this film, and Amanda Peet appears with all her clothes on – which takes a while to get used to.
The dinner table conversation that ties the film together is kinda tacky – whilst the cast are enthusiastic it simply feels too contrived. And what exactly are the essential elements of the tale that set our two storytellers off on totally different tangents?
For me Allen’s best work could be seen in Manhatten and Mighty Aphrodite. Melinda And Melinda isn’t particularly memorable, but is solid viewing all the same.Rating: