A director is forced to work with his ex-wife, who left him for the boss of the studio bankrolling his new film. But the night before the first day of shooting, he develops a case of psychosomatic blindness.
Over a meal in a French restaurant, Sy poses a conundrum to his fellow diners: Is the essence of life comic or tragic? For the sake of argument, he tells a story, which the others then embellish to illustrate their takes on life. The story starts as follows: A young Manhattan couple, Park Avenue princess Laurel and tippling actor Lee, throw a dinner party to impress Lee's would-be producer when their long-lost friend Melinda appears at their front door, bedraggled and woebegone. In the tragic version of what happens next, the beautiful intruder is a disturbed woman who got bored with her Midwestern doctor-husband and dumped him for a photographer. Her husband took the children away and she spiraled into a suicidal depression that landed her straight-jacketed in a mental ward. In the comic version, Melinda is childless and a downstairs neighbor to the dinner hosts, who are ambitious Indy filmmaker Susan and under-employed actor Hobie. Back and forth the stories go, contrasting the ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Due to the limited budget, Radha Mitchell, an Australian, couldn't have a dialect coach for her role as an American. See more »
In one of the beginning scenes for the "drama" version of Melinda's tale the battery pack for her microphone creates a very noticeable bulge in the lower back of her shirt. Whenever she stands up from leaning on the kitchen table the bulge turns into the shape of a square. See more »
Melinda had a reputation for being Postmodern in bed.
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Woody Allen, when at his best, has one of the sharpest pens around. He can make an acute observation and wrap it around a punch line like nobody else. However, when he's at his worst his movies can stench of pretentiousness. Unfortunately, "Melinda and Melinda" has this stench from opening to closing. The set up is one of his more intriguing ideas in a while. Four friends sit in a restaurant discussing whether the essence of life is comedy or drama. To help settle the argument, one man relates the beginning of a story and asks the two other men arguing (one a comic playwright, the other a dramatic playwright) whether the story is a comedy or a tragedy. The two men then continue the story and the movie plays out the stories that they weave. Now, when I first heard about this film, my understanding was that they tell the exact same story, the genre (comedy or drama) only changes by how you look at it. Now that would have been interesting. However, the stories only share one main element and a few side elements. They are entirely different stories with major plot differences. The drama is so stiffly scripted and pretentious that it can only really work as self-parody. If this was the point, then it failed because these elements prevent the audience from feeling any emotional investment in any of the characters. The comedy is the story that has moments of success, but they are still short and fleeting. Will Farrell is obviously meant to be the stand-in for Woody, but he could have played this character so much more believably without adding Woody's stutters and hand-ticks. Woody is the best at being Woody. When someone else tries, they're not playing a character, they are modeling a recognizable actor. This type of thing only pulls the audience out of the story.
My favorite Woody Allen movies make me leave the theater a little bit lighter in spirit than I walked in. This one made me wish I could get my money back.
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