Melinda and Melinda

Director: Woody Allen
Year Released: 2005
Rating: 1.5

Some N.Y. intellectuals (the "chorus") sit at a café for an eternity and, together, come up with the story of a woman (Radha Mitchell) who comes home again (complete with baggage) and the standard Park Avenuers who wind up in her life but can't agree on a tone, so the movie changes abruptly from being comedic to dramatic. The bi-polar treatment is obviously a gimmick, and one that doesn't promote any kind of harmony; as expected, the Will Ferrell character is the Allen stand-in (inflections and insecurities and all), and every instant with him not in the picture is spent wondering exactly where he is. The other characters, who are interested in art deco, expensive wine and their own pretentiousness, struggle to work their way around Allen's loaded dialogue - the older Woody gets, the closer his text approximates Bertrand Russell moonlighting as a romance novelist. Radha Mitchell's performance depends on the way her hair is styled (the more frazzled the hair, the more twitchy and flamboyantly awkward), but Vinessa Shaw is one sexy Conservative. For the record, Wallace Shawn's jovial take on the story is better, but the waiters in the café should have been more attentive and asked them all to leave.