Allen recounts both sides of his story concurrently, flip-flopping back and forth between his serious and lighthearted editions in order to highlight how the same basic plot outline can be molded for divergent purposes. In the film's solemn segment, Melinda is a neurotic, chain-smoking warning label against adultery, having lost her husband, custody of her children, and fragile hold on sanity because of a fling with a dashing Italian. Arriving on the Manhattan doorstep of her friends Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) and Laurel (Chloë Sevigny) during a get-together between friends and business associates, Melinda is a high-strung, near-anorexic mess, and her appearance eventually leads not only to a doomed romance with a dashing pianist and aspiring composer (Chiwetel Ejiofor, radiating intellectual charm), but also to the infidelity-incited end of struggling actor Lee and shopaholic Laurel's supposedly perfect marriage.
Continue reading: Melinda And Melinda Review
While these bookend scenes are uncharacteristically clunkyand deliberate, full of exposition designed to set the fictional stage,the two parallel stories are pure Woody Allen at his ironic, neurotic,romantic, poignant and peculiar best -- and they're deftly woven togetherto compliment and play off each other.
The underappreciated Radha Mitchell (she played wives in"FindingNeverland," "PhoneBooth" and "Manon Fire") may now get the recognition shedeserves with her remarkable performances in the dual title role as a flighty,suicidal beauty who arrives in each story by crashing a dinner party.
One Melinda is a new downstairs neighbor who knocks onthe Upper East Side door of wannabe filmmaker Amanda Peet (who flirts withrich men hoping they'll fund her independent movie "The CastrationSonata") and her husband, neurotic out-of-work actor Will Ferrell(the picture's requisite Woody surrogate, although with unpredicted nuanceFerrell makes the role his own). Pratfalling into the dining room, Melindaannounces she's just taken two dozen sleeping pills. The comical chaosthat ensues leads to friendships, infidelities and unrequited love, allorbiting around Melinda -- although she's largely unaware of the upheavalshe's wrought.
Continue reading: Melinda & Melinda Review
A terse, obstinate, overeducated woman who is deeply resentful at having been passed up for a promotion to full professor at her university (in favor of a man), she abandons civilization for a spell to visit her sister (Jane Adams), a teacher at a very remote one-room school in the Appalachian Mountains.
McTeer's intense and austere performance serves the story well as her character makes the discovery of her professional life while reluctantly roughing it with the rustic locals: The isolated society of struggling mountain people has preserved, intact, for hundreds of years the Scots-Irish folk songs carried to the New World by their ancestors.
Continue reading: Songcatcher Review