If there’s one thing I’ve learnt after watching nearly all of Woody Allen’s directed works is that his modern outputs are the equivalent of putting a nice-looking ribbon on what is essentially a box of vomit. By far the worst offender is Melinda and Melinda, a film that looks to tell two differing stories at the same time. It could’ve been double the fun, but in turn it creates double the problems, thus presenting to us the most insufferably dreadful Woody Allen film to date.
Set briefly in a restaurant where two writers debate the interests of their work, Melinda and Melinda sees the two work on their own premises of events. One writer provides a comedic input, the other a chillingly realistic viewpoint. They conceive their points and ideas, debating them briefly with one another. The only connection between the two is Melinda, played by Radha Mitchell in a completely forgettable and uninteresting performance.
Ferrell’s performance brings about the neuroticism of Allen’s direction in an impressively strong fashion. Who’d have thought the worst actor in the piece would give near enough eh best performance throughout the whole film. It’s a role that Allen himself would have played if it were released fifteen years ago. Ferrell manages to nail the characteristic hand movements and delivery that Allen presents though, a truly impressive sight to behold, however brief these scenes are. The impact of this presentation is limited though, there’s a reason Allen moved himself to behind the camera and it was to see how other performers would interpret his thoughts on life. Ferrell’s interpretation is to imitate, and he imitates well, but the only thought it provides is “this would’ve been better with Allen in front of the camera”.
The contrasts and similarities that appear between Melinda and Melinda are well presented, but it’s fuelled by nothingness. There’s simply no motif or engaging hook to pull us into either of the two stories presented. Shifting backwards and forwards in clunky, completely random times is jarring and leaves both stories lacking any emotional or thrilling presence whatsoever. There could be a great revelation in the dramatic story, only for us to cut away and spend ten minutes of filler in the comedic output. The reverse is also true, where the comedy begins to ramp up and then we’re thrown back into the middle of a loveless marriage between Jonny Lee Miller and Chloe Sevigny.
Neither story provides any interest whatsoever, and the film is the final pre-Match Point piece from Allen that I have to suffer through. If Match Point were the career resurgence Allen was going for, then it’s no surprise that Melinda and Melinda was the film to push him over the line of creating something worthwhile. Melinda and Melinda is a dreadful film, the worst in Allen’s entire filmography. A completely nothing film that provides nothing of interest in anything it does whatsoever. No performance brings any interest, the direction is all over the place in a real mixed bag of a piece, and the biggest sin of all is it casts Will Ferrell in a leading film role.