Woody Allen begins his picture with a discussion of whether or not life is essentially comedic or tragic. This occurs as a conversation between friends having drinks, and the point is made that it perhaps simply depends on one’s point of view. The director then illustrates this through the rest of the film by telling one story in two different ways, each with the central character of Melinda (played by Radha Mitchell).
It’s an interesting point. How often do we see in romantic comedies fairly tragic events being glossed over – perhaps using comedy to alleviate circumstance is a wonderful thing, thus the phrase ‘you have to laugh don’t you?’. Unfortunately for the sake of the film, the two stories have parallels but are actually quite different from each other, somewhat defeating the purpose of the exercise. The tragic storyline is most definitely more tragic than the comedic one. Some of the technical ploys stay true to the purpose, the use of music telling us to be in a good mood, the different cinematography to put a slightly glossier sheen on the comedic story etc. But the main flaw is too large, though the individual stories do hold the viewer’s attention for the most part.