Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Finally saw this great movie by Woody Allen and the thing that stuck out to me the most was how wonderful an actress Penélope Cruz is. While she didn’t show up until deep into the movie, she came in, stole the show and completely convinced me that she was Maria Elena, and not some actress playing her.
Vicky Christina Barcelona has a story that will annoy a lot of people due to its dalliance with the lifestyles of bohemians, and also it’s promotion of hypergamy that makes men seem as mere accessories to beautiful women. The story, or lack thereof turned out to be one of those “this happened one summer” types, and ends in a nice cyclical way that makes the audience think back at what had transpired. I am not going to assume that director Woody Allen wanted this tale to be any sort of deep metaphor into real life, or brain candy for the educated, but there is a lot of discussion that can be taken away from the film.
Vicky Christina Barcelona is narrated throughout by Christopher Evan Welch, and his voice sets up a playful mood from the beginning that lets you know that what you are about to see is not serious by any means. On the surface it is all about relationships and how we define them subjectively, but at its core is art and I would describe the entire screenplay as art – wild, predictable at some points but unpredictable at others.
The talent is monstrous, with names like Javier Berdam and Penélope Cruz… the chemistry and the heat off of these two was remarkable, though most of the screen time is spent following Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and her girlfriend Christina (Scarlett Johansson). There are scenes between every person listed but where chemistry roasted between Javier and Penélope, there was nothing when it came to the exchanges between Scarlett and Penélope. This isn’t to say that Johansson didn’t kill her role; I have never looked at her to be a great character actor but she became Christina in a very believable way.
Rebecca Hall’s Vicky will probably piss off most men watching, especially when her fiancé Doug (Chris Messina) shows up and is cast in the most unlikable way possible (is their a movie where a Yuppie is in anyway a cool person that doesn’t annoy us to hell?). I felt as if the movie was making me dislike Doug for being himself and in contrast to Vicky–who is shown in a sympathetic light–I had to take a step back and realize that I was being played. Vicky was well acted, and for that she actually made me hate her, so saying that everyone played their parts well is truly an understatement.
Like the title indicates, the majority of the movie was filmed in Barcelona, Spain and not only showcases the beauty of the country, but the architecture, the music (awesome guitars), and the art. If ever there was a movie to advertise the city to outsiders, this would be it as much of the first 45 minutes are spent showing us different locations that are tourist candy.
I was really impressed with the way everything was handled for Vicky Christina Barcelona, and though the narration would lead you to believe that you are experiencing one of those cheesy Romance Comedies when you start, by the end you will have been treated with superb acting, beautiful cinematography and a score to make you want to buy the soundtrack.
If the plot were any deeper I would chalk it up to perfection, but Penélope Cruz uttering “don’t you know how much we love you?”—and making you sigh from being impressed—is not enough to call this one fully loaded. Still, if ever there was a movie that will please both men and women I would say that this is it.