Fox Searchlight Pictures | Release Date: March 18, 2005
6.0
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Mixed or average reviews based on 53 Ratings
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5
SpangleFeb 2, 2017
Released in late 2004 in Europe, but early 2005 in America, Melinda and Melinda stands as a testament to the change that was afoot in Woody Allen's career. After this film, he took off to Europe and began filming in various vacationReleased in late 2004 in Europe, but early 2005 in America, Melinda and Melinda stands as a testament to the change that was afoot in Woody Allen's career. After this film, he took off to Europe and began filming in various vacation destinations across the continent. One of the last few New York City shot Allen flicks (Whatever Works and Cafe Society would later represent brief returns to the city he loves), Melinda and Melinda is a mixed bag. Touching on typical Allen themes, the film poses the question: is life more tragedy or comedy? Set during a dinner conversation between two playwrights, one a comic writer and the other a tragedy writer, both pose theories based on a story offered by a mutual friend. The setup: a couple is hosting a dinner party and a woman randomly shows up at their door. The two playwrights envision two entirely scenarios in which a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) knocks on the door of a dinner party unexpectedly. One goes tragically and the other turns comedic. Which is the actuality of life and better captures the likelihood of the mystery behind this girl?

In the tragic tale, Melinda is a woman damaged. After cheating on her husband, killing her lover, and losing custody of her children, she shows up at the front door of a couple, Lee (Jonny Lee Miller) and Laurel (Chloe Sevigny), as they entertain. Now, this couple are people she knew in college and had planned to stay with months ago, but a suicide attempt on Melinda's part got in the way. While with them, she meets and falls for a musical man named Ellis (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Unfortunately, things do not work, Lee and Laurel's marriage falls apart, a lawyer she consults cannot help her with her custody case, and Melinda winds up wanting to kill herself. By the end, Laurel resolves that Melinda will always need help. In this section, the tragedy is quite clear. Her life is horrible, though some is self-inflicted. Much of this section falls flat comedically, however. As a Woody Allen film, one would expect some more comedic lines, but there is nothing here. I looked for comedy here simply because the tragedy seems so ineffective. Melinda is unlikable and probably brought all of this on herself by killing a man in cold blood and cheating out of boredom. She is unsympathetic and not a good main character. The first half of the film heavily focuses on this story unfortunately and Melinda here is simply not easy to like. While the acting here is great, especially by Mitchell in a scene where she spills her heart and past to Ejiofor, little works until she meets Ejiofor. When the two are together, the film really does click and the tragic playwright finds some magic in the darkness.

In the comedy section, Melinda arrives at the home of Hobie (Will Ferrell) and Susan (Amanda Peet). As Allen is a comedy writer, this section really zips at times, especially in the second half. A damaged woman who arrives after having downed 24 sleeping pills, the section quickly becomes charming as she as Hobie begin to fall for one another. Fearing hurting his wife, Hobie consults best friend Walt (Steve Carell) as to what he should do. Fortunately, the feeling is mutual between he and his wife and they have an awkwardly easy split where the duo just agree it is over. Now free to chase Melinda, the duo fall in love after spending some time with other people - Melinda with a regular guy who is quite nice and Hobie with a Republican Playboy mode. Ending on a happier note, the section is largely quite witty with Ferrell playing the Woody Allen character. It is funny throughout with Ferrell delivering good Elf-like performance in regards to the innocence and authenticity of his character. He plays the neurotic man quite well and delivers the witty and smart lines with ease. When this section takes focus, Melinda and Melinda is at its most enjoyable and is often incredibly funny, mainly because it plays to Allen's strengths as a writer/director.

A film about whether life is more tragic or comedic, the answer is simple: it is both. The film very clearly shows that tragedy does not work quite as well without some comedic lightness to liven it up and comedy lacks stakes or the final bit of punch without some tragedy. Comedic possibilities are introduced in the tragic storyline and vice versa, but never explored because of the defined focus of the storylines. The end result is an interesting concept, but with two sections that do not work quite as well as intended and prove that tragedy and comedy need each other to work. In isolation, the duo tend to just tread water.
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BroyaxJan 22, 2017
Deux points de vue tout au long du film, deux façons d'aborder une histoire : l'une "tragique", l'autre "comique"... (entre guillemets, car ce n'est ni tragique ni comique, ni tragicomique, c'est juste con). Première erreur, les acteurs neDeux points de vue tout au long du film, deux façons d'aborder une histoire : l'une "tragique", l'autre "comique"... (entre guillemets, car ce n'est ni tragique ni comique, ni tragicomique, c'est juste con). Première erreur, les acteurs ne sont pas les mêmes entre les deux alternatives, exceptée Radha Mitchell la blonde toujours aussi ravissante, devenue une adorable milf). Seconde erreur, c'est réalisé par Woody Allen. Troisième erreur (fatale) : c'est écrit par Woody Allen, ce qui signifie des dialogues creux, des personnages vides et des blablas interminables et abrutissants : on dirait que le film dure 5h. Un gros étron donc, démoulé par l'andouille Woody Allen : on est même pas surpris. Expand
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5
J-ShapOct 10, 2011
Melinda and Melinda is not a particularly bad film, but just a limp one. In many ways, that's worse. The switching between a comic and tragic interpretation of the same movie keeps afloat with thought, but the film itself is rather empty, andMelinda and Melinda is not a particularly bad film, but just a limp one. In many ways, that's worse. The switching between a comic and tragic interpretation of the same movie keeps afloat with thought, but the film itself is rather empty, and neither story is particularly strong on its own. Expand
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3
habrownDec 1, 2014
I revere Woody Allen. But this is one Woody Allen flm I cannot support. The juxtaposition of the storyline simultaneously along tragic and comedic lines just does not work. Most of all, it's confusing. Notwithstanding a terrible script, II revere Woody Allen. But this is one Woody Allen flm I cannot support. The juxtaposition of the storyline simultaneously along tragic and comedic lines just does not work. Most of all, it's confusing. Notwithstanding a terrible script, I have to say Will Farrell does an admirable job. The other cast members fall flat. Expand
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4
TonyB.Jan 3, 2006
Although it has an interesting premise, there is really only one reason to see this film, and that is Radha Mitchell's performance, one of the best of the year.
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0
GregT.Nov 9, 2005
Rhonda asks how anyone can hate a Woody Allen movie...easy, just watch this one.
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8
WallyS.Dec 8, 2005
Woody Allen is in good shape, he creates a wonderfull plot full of autentic characters that are performed with majesty. Definetly, a cult film to see over and over again, just to capture the delightfull essence of the story, that is great.
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1
CraigA.Jun 12, 2006
Just rubbish. Stilted, unnatural dialogue, wooden performances, pretensious and bourgious. Its concept is supposedly the same story told two different ways. Its not. Its two different stories told the same way - badly.
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1
SusanMDec 29, 2005
I rented this pitiful "film." I am appalled that anybody was willing to fund this. It reminded me of a beginning acting class where people pair up and do scenes in front of the class and "act" with all the realism of a piece of wood. I rented this pitiful "film." I am appalled that anybody was willing to fund this. It reminded me of a beginning acting class where people pair up and do scenes in front of the class and "act" with all the realism of a piece of wood. Moreover, the archaic dialoge just sounded ridiculous. Does Mr. Allen ever listen to contemporary conversations? Oh, and everyone is an accomplished musician and they only like Cole Porter! "I was walking along a sidewalk and there was a piano. I used to play in high school. Actually, I gave concerts." Puh-lease. The only cast member I didn't pity was Amanda Peet, who emerged from this mess without losing any dignity. Can't say the same for everyone else. Hey, what did you guys think? Expand
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