Melinda And Melinda  [DVD]
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Romantic comedy/tragedy written and directed by Woody Allen. Sy (Wallace Shawn) is having dinner with some friends when they begin debating the nature of the tragic and the humorous. Sy, observing that a very fine line separates the two, decides to demonstrate this by showing how the same story can be either funny or sad depending on the way certain elements are handled. He uses the story of Melinda (Radha Mitchell), a young woman with some serious problems in her life. In the tragic version, Melinda crashes a dinner party thrown by old friends Laurel (Chloe Sevigny) and Lee (Jonny Lee Miller). When she arrives, she is under the influence of alcohol and pills, much to the annoyance of Lee, an actor hoping to impress a producer who is one of his guests. After breaking up with her husband, Melinda lost custody of her children and came to New York City, where she became involved with Ellis Moonsong (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a handsome and well-mannered composer whose promises to her proved to be worthless. In the funny version, Melinda shows up dazed and confused at the home of Susan (Amanda Peet) and Hobie (Will Ferrell), who are in the midst of a dinner party. Learning about the sad state of Melinda's love life after divorcing her husband and losing custody of her children, Susan decides to play Cupid and fix her friend up with a well-to-do dentist. However, neither Susan nor Melinda are aware that there is another man deeply interested in the troubled divorcee - Hobie.
In Melinda and Melinda, Will Ferrell does a fine job playing Woody Allen--or at any rate, playing the fumbling, neurotic, lascivious character who appears in almost every Woody Allen movie (and is usually played by Allen himself). Hobie (Ferrell) is an unemployed actor who has fallen helplessly in love with Melinda (Radha Mitchell)--or at least with one version of Melinda, because Hobie's comic story runs parallel with a more serious version of the same plot, in which Melinda falls in love with a composer (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Melinda and Melinda is intended to be a sort of showdown between a comic and a tragic view of the world, but the comic story isn't all that funny and the tragic story isn't all that sad. You're more likely to feel annoyed by these characters than sympathetic to them, as they act more like Martians than New Yorkers; their responses and attitudes aren't exactly dated or implausible, they're mostly incomprehensible. The movie is still a step up from Anything Else, Allen's last effort; there are a handful of genuinely funny moments, Chloe Sevigny (as one of Melinda's best friends) and Mitchell are particularly good, and the turns of the two-fold plot--regardless of its genre--are engaging. However, these virtues will be best appreciated by those who are already Allen fans. --Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Sadly there's no single great performance to pull the film together. Radha Mitchell tries but, while her comic face is sporadically engaging, never really catches fire, with her dramatic scenes feeling too premeditated and overly prepared. Chloe Sevigny, Amanda Peet and Chiwetel Ejiofor are the more successful of the supporting players, but most, like Jonny Lee Miller, simply feel like they're third or fourth choice actors reciting awkward lines in a bad play rather than flesh and blood people. And it's getting genuinely tiresome to see his leading men doing Woody Allen impersonations instead of giving a performance (here a weak Will Ferrell).Read more ›
The film follows the fortunes of troubled thirtysomething Melinda (Radha Mitchell) along with friends and lovers played by a top notch ensemble cast including Will Ferrell, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chloe Sevigny and Amanda Peet. A series of Manhattan apartments and dinner parties provide a familiar setting, but Melinda and Melinda surprises and delights by being two films in one.
As the film opens, four theatrical friends are debating whether comedy or tragedy is a better reflection of life over dinner. As they discuss an anecdote about a woman showing up unexpectedly at a dinner party, the film begins telling a story of two Melindas, with the dinner party sequence first interpreted tragically and next as a comedy, and then alternating between the parallel worlds.
Allen keeps his two storylines separate by having two casts, united only by Radha Mitchell (Phone Booth, Man on Fire) who turns in an engrossing performance as the two Melindas. Her Tragic Melinda is nervous and brittle, like an accident waiting to happen, while she lends Comic Melinda an engaging warmth and vulnerability.
As always, Allen has also recruited some formidable supporting talents, including British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) as Ellis, a passionate musician who becomes Tragic Melinda's boyfriend, and Chloe Sevigny (Dogville) as the quietly desperate Laurel who threatens to come between them.Read more ›
To this end, he hires a cast of familiar actors. Some of them are his own friends from as far back as Manhattan and Husbands and Wives, and some are actors from things like Silence of the Lambs and even Trainspotting. Allen traditionally recruits from either a familiar crowd or an under-rated minority of otherwise successful films.
Although the film's task is admirable, this one marks a low-point in Allen's distinguished career. He doesn't pull out the stops and some scenes are overtly badly acted out - an indictment of direction rather than the cast.
Will Farrell does a good job of acting out the neurotic Woody Allen as we've seen him in other, earlier films, but this alone doesn't and cannot rescue what turns out in essence to be a mediocre exploration of an interesting debate about the meaning and nature of life itself. On that level, it's disappointing.
There are some warm and comedic moments in the film, and so overall it is worth watching, but only just, especially if you're interested in the output of Woody Allen's career. Just don't expect too much.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was hoping for something a bit 'Sliding Doors', after 30 minutes I realised I was bored but being that there was only an hour left I would push on. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Fay C.
yeah! I thought It was an enjoyable movie. I liked the philosophical chatter between the 4 people in the restaurant, it really set the scene for the movie - like a good... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lisa Mccomb
A very good Woody Allen opus ; characters are funny and the relativity of the dramatic or comic side of life is well exposed. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2013 by jevola
The DVD was impossible to play the DVD palyer simply stated CANNOT LOAD. a complete waste of money I really think this was a complete rip offPublished on 21 May 2013 by William GAult
Woody Allen's 2004 film Melinda And Melinda is fairly typical of his work since the mid-1990s. Reassuringly, it is set in his most familiar milieu i.e. Read morePublished on 26 Jun. 2012 by Keith M