Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Posted by Miss Ess, January 28, 2009 05:52pm | Post a Comment
I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona last night and it was all so very Woody Allen. In a way, it's nice to know that despite setting his movie in a place as far-flung as gorgeous, sun dappled Spain, you can't take the neuroses out of a New Yorker and thus his work.

The movie is about two friends who are opposites when it comes to love, which in this movie equals life. They visit Spain for the summer, one to study art and architecture, one to study, of course, love and life. They quickly meet an artist named Juan Antonio who has a violent ex-wife, Maria Elena. Various entanglements ensue. I do tire sometimes of Woody Allen's female characters and their limitations in so many of his films -- his women are so often both shallow and unknowable, both to other characters and the audience. You can tell a man with a somewhat restricted, maybe even old fashioned knowledge of women's inner lives has written the script. But then, each time this thought enters my head while watching a Woody Allen film, I think of Annie Hall and I know that there is or was something more in him, just not in this particular movie, which for me includes Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Penelope Cruz exhibits enough rage and instability as Maria Elena to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and good for her. She is probably the best, most emotive character in the film, and yet I was still frustrated by the lack of depth to her character.

There are some odd, Woody-esque details that make the film feel almost a tad silly, maybe a bit lovable: The oddly sinister sounding omniscient narrator that chats us through the film; Vicky's square fiance and his perfectly coiffed hair; The ending itself is oh-so-Woody Allen, but I won't give any of it away.

Truthfully, like most of Allen's films for me, the whole thing, as usual, comes off as a slightly creepy, should-I-really-watch-this? old guy's fantasy. Which is probably what it is anyway, right?

That said, the flim did keep me absorbed throughout (it's only about an hour and half long), and brought up some interesting thoughts about class divisions and life choices. And did I mention the scenery? I mean, if Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johanssen, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall aren't enough for you, there's always the Spanish countryside, which is just as seductive as the characters, if not moreso. The camera lingers and gazes at the scenery with a kind of wonder that matches that of Vicky and Cristina, the tourists.

This picture is not a weighty work, but all things considered it's a rather flippant, light pleasure to watch. And considering it was written and directed by a guy who is the same age as my grandparents and whose creative output continues nonstop, despite his age, I'd call it worth watching. It arrived on DVD&nbs

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (1), Woody Allen (4), Scarlett Johansson (4), Penelope Cruz (2), Javier Bardem (1), Rebecca Hall (1)