Woody Allen and Melinda and Melinda

Originally Published: March 28, 2005

Will Ferrell mimics Allen’s sexual panic attacks better than anyone I have seen. When Susan sets up Melinda with a hunky dentist (played by Josh Brolin), a jealous Hobie (Ferrell) argues that she just divorced a doctor: “A dentist is the same thing, only oral.” Ferrell delivers the line with all the Woody trimmings. But after Old School, Elf, Anchorman and seven years on Saturday Night Live, Ferrell should have been trusted to put his own spin on the role. The scene in which Hobie finds his wife in bed with a stud and gets giddy, because he’s now clear to woo Melinda, finally lets Ferrell be Ferrell.

Things get tense when Melinda falls for Ellis (played by Chiwetel Ejiofar), a jazz pianist from Harlem who dumps her for Laurel (Sevigny in a touching role). Threats and accusations create a film-noir mood that Woody enhances with the help of great cinematography. Mitchell works wonders as the deranged Melinda embraces her dark side.

Everything on screen happens to the mellow sounds of jazz great Duke Ellington and Stravinsky. And so goes Woody Allen’s Manhattan. The painting he created in the Seventies and touches up here with fresh faces.

Allen is currently doing post work on the thriller Match Point, due in theaters later this year.

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