A bunch of guys are discussing philosophy in a bar. Two writers with opposed views on life argue about it: is life tragic or comic? To illustrate their theories, they imagine a story of a woman. The comic writer presents the optimistic, bright tale of Melinda Radha Mitchell , who just accepts life as it goes by. The tragic writer gives us a destructive, lonesome and troubled Melinda, who deals with depression and suicide. Around the two Melindas we can find a variety of interesting characters: a sincere and kind of shy actor Will Ferrell and his ambitious wife Amanda Peet in the comic <more>
tale; an intellectual woman Chloe Sevigny and the gentle pianist Chiwetel Ejiofor she falls in love with.Woody's recent efforts weren't much impressive yet me and most of critics here liked them , so everyone was a bit skeptical about his next film. Skeptical because it wasn't a proper comedy and because Woody didn't appear in it. Well, after having seen it, I must say this is the best film the man has directed in the last ten years or so no, I haven't seen Deconstructing Harry . Not only it is wittier, but more transcendental as well. It feels more personal, and its message is clearer and warmer. Woody teaches us a lesson. Let's not get too excited, though. The film itself is not breathtakingly impressive, but it truly delivers, and is overall rewarding. It features plenty of allenisms and classic Woody situations. Precisely one of the correct complaints about the movie is the feeling of déja vu. The film's premise is original it might even remind of Crimes and Misdemeanors, but believe me: it's pretty different and very well executed, but the setting and characters all seem a bit familiar.Nothing wrong with that, though. There's plenty of characters and they're all very well crafted by the director: the protagonist, Melinda, is both believable in its two sides tragic and comic . Radha Mitchell is excellent in both parts, switching from comedy to drama smoothly. Will Ferrell is great, and I mean great, portraying the allenistic neurotic - he doesn't merely imitate Woody. Ejiofor and Sevigny are also very adequate in their roles. Overall, none of the characters seems forced; they're all believable and honest. I'd like to comment on the cinematography by veteran Vilmos Zsigmond The Deer Hunter in his first collaboration with Allen: the photography is by no means revolutionary, but the way the shots were composed was always interesting a rewatch will help to reinforce this observation .Woody's direction is masterful as always. I'm fascinated at how he alternates and mixes both stories. The pace and editing are mostly effective, as is the usual jazzy score. The dialogues presented are human and dynamic. This is a throughoutly enjoyable, pleasant exercise on love, infidelity, marriage, life, and so on, which while not being specially mesmerizing nor powerful, is sure enlightening: life is short. We shouldn't see it in a pessimistic way, because that doesn't lead anywhere, nor in an exaggeratedly optimistic way. We just got to accept it and enjoy it, because it can end... like that.
Manhattan still drives Woody Allen crazy: Urbanites are prey to ambition and lust, pride and diffidence and even sound like Woody with their halting sentences, paranoid affectations, and occasionally witty lines tossed off like the dregs of their grande lattes. It's a petting zoo of needy moderns who most of all want to find love, which eludes them right up to the last cliffhanging moment.Alvy Singer and Annie Hall are the best known of Allen's angst-ridden city dwellers, but the new Woodies are every bit as screwed up if not more knowing about the quagmires their marriages and <more>
professions have become. The setup is twin parallel stories starting from the same incident reflecting separately the tragic and the comic possibilities.It all begins with a discussion at a restaurant table among four sophisticates about life being either tragic or comic. Sy Wallace Shawn , a comedy writer, argues that people need laughter to overcome life's essential pain difficult to separate Shawn from the memory of his discussion in "My Dinner with Andre" . Max Larry Pine says that life is absurd and therefore tragic. So each tells the same story differently about an uninvited guest, one story a romantic comedy, the other a tragic tale of a desperate loner.Will Farrell as a neurotic husband does the best fax Allen yet in his films. His lines are vintage Woody, tossed-off self-deprecation with a worldly wise guy subtext. One of the best lines comes from Susan Amanda Peet , a director, who discloses the title of her newest film, "The Castration Sonata," putting "male sexuality in perspective." The Woodman returns in fine form to take on Aristotle and try to fulfill his own hope over a quarter century ago when he said, "If my film makes one more person miserable, I'll feel I've done my job." His tragedy has such ample comedy, I predict you won't be miserable.
This is yet another distinctively imaginative movie from Woody Allen. As ever, the writing is witty and perceptive. There are excellent performances across the board, with Radha Mitchell in the title role being especially noteworthy. Her deft portrayal of widely varied aspects of one woman under very different circumstances is vivid and touching. Typically for one of Woody Allen's films the cinematography and music aid the storytelling with easy elegance. The story itself is the very embodiment of a most rich and all too human bittersweetness.Woody Allen's more recent films are <more>
consistently underrated. Meanwhile, the man just continues to build a singularly excellent body of work while following his own vision. I have no doubt that body of work will be much more appreciated when he's finished making movies. Here's hoping that both critics and audiences will wake up and enjoy the work of one of our great and original American filmmakers while it's still in progress.
I went to see this film a bit skeptical, because Woody's last movies were not his best ones. In the last ten years, he has made funny, entertaining films; some quite interesting, as "Decontructing Harry" or "Sweet and Lowdown", but generally unimportant. But wit "Melinda and Melinda" he has made one of his most brilliant films. As in "Crimes and Misdemeanors", he mixes two different stories -a dramatic one, and a light comedy-. The result ins quite different; this movie is not as critic as that, but is really enjoyable. He mixes a drama -serious, <more>
deep, with well-built characters, and really credible- and a delicious comedy -with really funny quotes, and moments that recover his best of the 80's-, with a lot of talent, because the two stories complete each other, the movie doesn't creak.Radha Mitchell is wonderful as the two Melindas: suggestive and content in the drama; innocent, tender and funny int he comedy. And Will Farrell, who takes the 'Woody Allen role', is the best choice he has done for that purpose ever- because instead of imitating Allen, he creates a new character, human, pleasant and funny. The script is great; with parallelism and second interpretations- And the movie is really entertaining. I hope it will get the attention it deserves; and I expect Woody Allen to keep this new walk in his career. 9/10 .
I saw the trailer for Melinda and Melinda and thought..."pass." Woody does WASP angst. Like I said..."pass." Luckily, I had a chance to go to a screening and loved the movie. I loved the premise, two sides of the same story. This film needs to be watched without trying to second guess, or think clever thoughts or compare it to other Allen films, or fiddle with your cell phone and flash the light into other people's eyes. I liked this film. I liked the detail that gave us insight into each character ie their homes, or an off hand comment. I liked watching the <more>
character's lives unfold. I thought a lot about the film the next day. No conclusions, just rolling the scenes and insights around in my head. I had a good time watching this fil unfold. I probably will go to see it again. The trailer gave us a bunch of dangling one liners. It missed the boat. I'm glad I got to see it before any buzz.
Beautiful Duality Between Comedy and Tragedy (by jaggedyer)
This movie is inspiring. Two stories taking place, simultaneously, with the same character. While one is a tragedy the other is a comedy. The concept is incredibly original and I have yet to see in any other film! This is some of Woody Allen's best work! The type-casting and acting are perfect here. More importantly, you'll see that while Comedy and Tragedy may seem juxtaposed, the ending shows a beautiful convergence of the two. Questions about play writing and the difference between them is blurred. Very creative writing. Not to mention this a brilliant and great movie! I am <more>
surprised at the low ratings.I have seen 40 Woody Allen movies and this movie belongs up there with Midnight and Paris, Annie Hall, and Hannah and Her Sisters.
This film probably marks the crucial point where Woody Allen takes one step back and lets others take over the Woody persona of a typical Allen film. It's happened before, in Celebrity and Anything Else, but now the lead characters can breathe as themselves without having to essentially 'be Woody'. Sure the resemblances are still there but more in the situations than in the characters. Will Ferrell displays proper comic timing and Jonny Lee Miller tries valiantly with what he's given. The script sparkles with more one-liners than most recent efforts and an appropriate return <more>
of the 'lust for life' motif seen in earlier films such as Hannah and Her Sisters or Everyone Says I Love You. If you don't appreciate that comic situations are both sad and full of life, and that tragedy has a fair share of unexpected delights as well as heartache, than you're definitely missing the point. Woody displays both of these in equal quantity spread liberally throughout the film in all situations. And so what if the end plays more like a series of sketches than a full-on film? It's the mark of a master than can make us enjoy what we see regardless of narrative form. 8 out of 10.
Delightful mix of experimentation, casual self-reflection and fairly well-delivered entertainment (by Chris_Docker)
Have you ever had one of those days when life seemed terrible and everything in your world made you miserable? But then have you had one such day and, in a moment - maybe after a word from a loved one or friend, or a sudden flash of inspiration, or even a physiological stimulus such as a cup of coffee - realised things weren't so miserable after all - maybe even had tears of sorrow turn to tears of laughter? And if those tears keep flowing, aren't they the same tears?A couple of playwrights, New York intellectuals, are idly discussing the 'life is tragedy or comedy according to <more>
your perspective' theme in a Manhattan café. So starts Woody Allen story in Melinda and Melinda. Working from a basic storyline, a girl arriving unannounced at a dinner party, two alternative stories unfold, one comic and one tragic. Both overlap without being identical, in themes, the actress playing the visitor, and sometimes even dialogue.I started off concentrating hard to make sure I didn't confuse the two interwoven tales, and also concentrating hard to see if a deep philosophical point was going to be made. After half an hour or so I stopped giving too much effort to either and just sat back and enjoyed.As entertainment, Melinda and Melinda contains so many wonderful ingredients - wit, pathos, hilarity, great acting, suspense, moral intrigue. Visually it's also very pleasing - from the lovingly crafted and vibrant New York interiors of which Allen is so fond, to the eye candy in the form of hunks like Chiwetel Ejiofor the captivating suitor to one of the Melindas or the remarkable Chloë Sevigny.Sevigny, in a supporting role, gives a beautifully nuanced performance. As an actress, she has not relied on her sylph like looks but adamantly stuck to parts in largely Independent films that both develop her as an actress and show her commitment and integrity in her profession.But the main role, that of Melinda s , is reserved for Radha Mitchell, who has to play both a seriously and slightly scary tragic persona, hair and worn features showing her traumatic life, and then moments later the comic Melinda whose madcap gaiety puts a sparkle into proceedings. Both roles are pushed - especially in a scene where each Melinda tries to throw herself from a window. The difference between comedy and tragedy is mostly visible in Melinda.Woody Allen is a professional filmmaker that consistently churns out movies on a very reasonable budget, some better, some worse, but very rarely is there one that doesn't provide a passable hour and a half of entertainment for the price of admission. There are some people who mostly dislike his work, or are only won over by masterpieces such as Hannah and Her Sisters, or ones that come close, like Deconstructing Harry or Mighty Aphrodite. Melinda and Melinda is probably not in either league, but it is still a very worthwhile accomplishment. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it's a moving film in places and plays with ideas like suspension of belief. And yes, it made me think - but so much so that serious reflection got in the way of pure enjoyment.There are plenty of flaws - the basic idea never rises above armchair philosophy, there is no great resolution to bring a sense of meaning after the film has finished. The difference between tragedy and comedy for instance, while it might be separated by a hair's breadth in the cosmic scale of things or within writers' building blocks , is very real for people undergoing real tragedy. Laughter can be justified more easily when it lightens suffering, rather than laughing at it or ignoring it. Cinema has its limits. Interestingly, Allen's cinema has plenty of self-imposed limits that suggest it doesn't take itself too seriously - no expensive special effects, A-List stars only in moderation, no lingering close-ups for actors to practise Oscar-begging expressions; it borrows far more from European than British or American cinema. He seems to get on with the job instead of making it all-important in itself. Even his own philosophising seems not to draw direct attention in his films. "I have an extremely pessimistic outlook and so to me the glass is always empty. Not half empty, but completely empty. My feelings are summed up by the character who says, in effect, that life is basically tragic but there are little islands of comedy in it."If you have very fixed views about Woody Allen films you will already know whether you want to go and see Melinda and Melinda. For others, you may find that the deft delivery of comedy is worth more than a cursory glance. Allen's prolific output, occasional innovation, and his apparent consistent ability to follow his own agenda rather than that of the big studios mark him as someone to watch both now and by film historians.Ironically, for someone with such an outlook, he contributes many 'little islands of comedy' to what might be seen as a long-suffering and out of touch industry. I definitely enjoyed this bout of island hopping.
I thought that this film is right out of the classic Woody Allen mode. His theme of having events determined by others -- in this case, the writers -- was reminiscent of his one-act plays, "God" and "Death," and follows the tracks of the worldview he has always explored in his films. It was very well-written and crafted, an enjoyable night at the flicks.One thing that struck me is that the character played by Will Ferrell is exactly the part that Woody can no longer play because he's too old. It was not long into the film before I discerned that these are lines that <more>
Woody had written for himself, the character he'd always played, but a younger man was delivering them for him. And that only added to the charm of the film for me.