Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Melinda and Melinda

Two playwrights, one a comedian, and one a writer who specializes in tragedies, hear the story of a woman he walks in unannounced to a friends’ dinner party. The writers agree to make a story out of it. The movie stars Radha Mitchell (no relation), an excellent actress.

In viewing the tragic version of Melinda’s story, I found myself wondering Where on Earth did Woody Allen form his ideas about the legal system in this country, and to what extent do they reflect American society’s views as a whole? In the tragic version, Melinda is a married woman living in St Louis with her doctor husband and two children when she crosses the path of a charming international photographer. She leaves her husband and children to run away with this fellow who shortly thereafter proves to be a shameless womanizer who dumps her for someone else.

She then proves Kipling right: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She buys a pistol, tracks down the philandering ex-boyfriend, and cold-bloodedly shoots him to death. For this, she spends a long death in prison, and now that she’s out of parole, she’s asking one of her old friends’ lawyer husbands to help her regain control of her children.

As I watched the film, I thought to myself, if she was really lucky and got a sweet plea deal from the prosecutor, she’d probably get sentenced 15 years and be out in eight. After all that time in prison, she wants to take back her children that she abandoned from the husband she left? At one point in the film, she visits her lawyer in the office to ask how the case is going and the lawyer responds, “Well, your husband has a lot of political influence.”

I am not the comic genius Woody Allen is, but if I were in that lawyer’s shoes I’d say “Listen you crazy b***, you left your kids for Mr. Excitement, proved you were capable of murder, and now you want your kids back? I don’t think so.” Then again, maybe saying such a thing to a woman who owns a pistol wouldn’t be the best idea in the world.

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