Directed by Woody Allen, starring Will Ferrell, Radha Mitchell, Neil Pepe, Stephanie Roth Haberle, Amanda Peet, Chloe Sevigny, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Jonny Lee Miller and Brooke Smith.

Woody Allen's latest offering may not be for everybody, but it certainly caters for a greater audience than just the faithful. Filled with the stuff of life, 'Melinda and Melinda' is beautifully shot and very easy to engage with.

This is a quirky, 'Sliding Doors'-style take on one woman's story, sporadically jumping between visions of her life suffused with comedy and tragedy. At the outset, we meet two writers having dinner in a restaurant with guests, discussing the powerful effects of comic and tragic twists. What we drift into is the telling of one life story, split into two different versions that unfold simultaneously.

In our comic telling Melinda (Mitchell) begins her tale by bursting into the home of her neighbours Hobie (Ferrell) and Susan (Peet), as they are trying to pitch for funding for Susan's new movie. Melinda announces to very sympathetic dinner party guests that she has just taken an overdose and collapses onto the couch, commanding all the attention with her far-fetched tales of misery. (Yes, this is the comic version of events).

Meanwhile tragedy-stricken Melinda arrives unannounced at the home of her married friends Laurel (Sevigny) and Lee (Miller), intruding on their dinner party with old schoolfriend Cassie (Smith). Melinda is clearly a chain-smoking, wine-swigging, emotional mess, who claims that her husband has obtained custody of their children after she ran away with her younger lover. So this Melinda cares little for anyone around her but cannot cope with the consequences when they treat her with the same disregard.

Radha Mitchell is superb as the two Melindas that we meet in very different circumstances, portraying crazy, obsessed Melinda just as well as the calm, carefree woman-next-door. But it is perhaps Will Ferrell that shines brightest here, as the bumbling, jealous and slightly clumsy Hobie, who becomes obsessed with his beautiful neighbour.

Filled with warm colours and some wonderful, dimly lit scenes, this film is shot for maximum mood impact. The array of wacky characters charmingly gets under your skin in this emotion-packed tale of twists of fate and what ifs. And to Allen's credit you'll find yourself really caring about the destiny of both Melindas!

Linda McGee