Take me to Europe! Take me to Spain! Let me spend my summer in the arms of a beautiful European man!
Thanks Woody Allen, as if I wasn’t already counting down my European adventure, you had to create this film, and I, years later, had to watch it. And now, all I can think about is drinking wine, lazing about in the sun and soaking up the culture. So cheers.
OK, so I watched this film on a summer’s night on top of a roof with the skyline of Melbourne, so I can’t really complain, but still.
And, granted, that was all I could think about BEFORE I saw this film too, but it’s best to blame someone and Woody Allen has an uncanny knack for taking the brunt of insults with aplomb.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, follows the lives of two American tourists who have come to Spain for the summer; Vicky, to begin research on her masters and Cristina, to continue her search for true love.
Vicky and Cristina couldn’t be more different; Vicky lives a structured life, she is engaged to a boring, but rich and safe, man; Cristina views herself as a non-conformist, seeking out the presence of something real and passionate.
During their trip they meet the enigmatic Juan Antonio, a Spanish painter, who both girls fall for, in different ways. Eventually, Vicky’s fiancee, Doug, joins her in Spain, while Cristina begins a tumultuous and passionate relationship with Juan Antonio, and eventually they become a three-some, when his ex-wife, the beautiful yet flighty, Maria Elena, moves in with them.
While Woody Allen may be, in essence, a massive creeper who married his adopted daughter (although, in their defence, they appear to have been happily married for 15 years, so mazel tov to them), he’s a phenomenal film writer and director.
The beauty of Vicky Cristina Barcelona is that while not a great deal occurs throughout the film, the viewer’s emotions are continually changing, evolving, and becoming immersed in the character’s lives.
While I’m not much of a Scarlett Johansson fan, the performance of Penelope Cruz (who went on to win an Academy Award for her role), more than made up for it. The beautiful, and natural, Spanish language that is thrown around between her and Javier Bardem is downright sexy, and although she was selfish, passionate, over-the-top and cynical, I still kinda wanted to be her.
Like many of Woody Allen’s films, the beauty lies in the writing, and the beautiful cinematography used throughout. While the thought of Gaudi, Spain and Barcelona was never unappealing to me, during, and after, the film all I could imagine was myself, lying in the Spanish sun, reading poetry and enjoying the beautiful art around me…Ahhh.
Of course, the lives that the central characters live is somewhat idealist; who wouldn’t love to spend 3 months doing nothing more than having sex, taking photographs and appreciating beauty in a foreign country? Yes please.
This is, however, greatly emphasised by the duality between the lives of Vicky and Cristina; the former who realises, through the course of their 3 months, that perhaps the ‘safe’ lifestyle isn’t what she wants. Allen greatly points out that upper-class, suburbia dwelling, polo wearing individuals are to be mocked, or perhaps even pitied. That the truly amazing are the passionate artistic types, that don’t live from pay cheque to pay cheque, but rather live in the beauty of the moment.
LIke I said, if only.
The only flaw to this film that I had was the complete stereotype that many women fawn over the one man. While Javier Bardem definitely has a certain, eh, sensual charm, it also seems a tad bit ridiculous that the three main women in the film fall completely in love with him. Furthermore, while Johansson and Cruz kissing is probably more attractive than any two guys kissing, it still is a bit like “oh come on” that a threesome starts to occur mid-way through the plot.
Overall, for a romantic film, that makes you sigh as you think about an alternate lifestyle (one that, if we’re lucky enough, we will indeed live ourselves one day), Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the way to go. The acting is superb, the scenery is awe-inspiring and the writing flawless…and if you don’t like any of that, you get to witness girls kissing each other.
Have you seen Vicky Cristina Barcelona? What did you think? Have you been to Spain? Care to share your stories?