Vicky Cristina Barcelona

vicky_cristina_barcelona

This is one of those films that without a doubt, certainly and absolutely, will divide people. Its like Burn After Reading in that its an observation of human psychology, politics and philosophy (although in Burn it was more about morality). Here’s the premise, without spoilers: 2 american tourists go to Spain, are approached by Javier Bardem, and offered a weekend of wine, candle-lit dinners and… well… sex.

The plot progresses from there, the 2 american tourists acting as each other’s foil. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is the sensible one, with perfect ideas of what she wants from love, and Cristina (Scarlett Johnasson) is the wilder, bisexual one, with a more Nietzschean approach to love, resigned to suffering, but knowing she could obtain some happiness from it.

Throw in the womanizing, bohemian Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio, and the neurotic and crazed Penelope Cruz as his ex wife, and you have a pretty damn good romantic drama, with love quadrilaterals, depressing looks at the committment involved in marriage, and philosophical bitterness.

Bardem and Cruz absolutely nail their roles, creating a completely believable yet dysfunctional couple, who’s desire for Cristina add another dimension to what could have been a plain ol’ three-way love triangle.

Woody Allen brings great direction, creating a beautiful portrayal of rural Spain, but this is eclipsed by the story, which takes a dominant role over the aesthetic part of the film.

Some called this a return to Woody Allen’s classic humour, but I totally disagree. Not once did I laugh (not necessarily a bad thing), compared to Love & Death where I giggled every other sentence.

So why will this film divide people exactly? It’s the ending, and it brings to mind There Will be Blood. You’ve invested in the film, care about the characters, want some conclusion, and it’s just open-ended and vague. Now as a film buff I can deal with that, but others won’t. They’ll stomp their feet and wonder why its not a happy ending, and how nobody’s learnt anything, and that its the directors job to literally tell you what happens, giving no room for any personal creative thought.

So let me simplify things; this isn’t a conventional film. Neither was Blood or Burn, and this is in the same vein, so if you didn’t like those two (brilliant) pieces of cinema, you’re not going to like this one.

However, the soundtrack is absolute gold, with spanish guitars and female vocals singing tales of love (pienso, hablo poco espanol) over the well directed film. There’s no numerical rating for this one, because it will most certainly be different for each viewer.

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2 Responses to “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

  1. Little Green Man Says:

    What an excellent review, and I’m glad someone else liked Burn after reading, as most of my friends said they liked some bits and hated the rest, and said they didn’t get it. Ah well.

  2. Yeah, most of my friends did’t like Burn either. Pah! Philistines!

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