Watched two this weekend. "Diary of Mad Black Woman" and Melinda and Melinda . I'd heard that"Diary of a Mad Black Woman" was worth seeing, and "Melinda and Melinda" was a whim pick. While the two movies on the surface have little in common, both tell a story about what happens when men and women follow their hearts instead of their common sense.
"Diary of a Mad Black Woman" is from a play by Tyler Perry, who acts in three roles . We watch how Helen's (Kimberly Elise) world collapses when her wealthy, professional husband kicks her to the curb. With nowhere to go, Helen seeks help from her grandmother, Madea, played by Tyler Perry with some remarkable makeup work and monstrous fake boobs. Madea is a good hearted pistol waving senior citizen, not afraid to stand up for herself, and her relatives and friends. The story unfolds showing how Helen, already self aware, is torn and transformed, forced to reach inside herself to make very hard choices. The writing at times seems more suited for the stage, and I wish we could have had more of Madea and less of her sex mad husband, Joe, played by Tyler Perry. There is also a sub plot involving Helen's friend Deborah who has hit bottom, and is estranged from her husband, played by Tyler Perry, and children. Through this interplay, we learn about how family, community, and spirituality provide the framework for a life with meaning and purpose.
"Melinda and Melinda" is different, a Woody Allen exercise that shows us how love provides the same material for comedy and tragedy. If this Chekhovian theme wasn't enough, the movie opens with what looks like the reunion of the "Uncle Vanya" cast having an after dinner discussion centering on tragedy and comedy. Based on a story of an emotionally distraught woman, Melinda (Radha Mitchell), who intrudes without warning into a dinner party held by a sophisticated, artistic New York couple, the two versions of the story take their tragic twists and comic turns. The movie is enjoyable not only because it is clever, but also for the way it simultaneously idealizes and satirizes the Manhattan elite strata of low budget and high minded film makers, actors, and classical musicians.
After seeing "Diary of Mad Black woman" and "Melind and Melinda" my conclusion is that love is the strongest force affecting humans, one that can either destroy or reshape us, and either way, we're not ever the same afterwards.
(By the way, last week Woody Allen said, with a straight face that he had paternalistic feelings for his wife. Guess that has something to do with him being her stepfather.)