Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vicky Christina Barcelona

DAN - Woody Allen’s newest film is built around two friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson), who decide to spend a summer in Barcelona. They meet a mysterious and alluring painter named Juan (Javier Bardem) who invites them to visit his home in the countryside. Complex romances soon evolve among the characters.

I’ve seen a few of Woody Allen’s most famous movies, but I was never impressed. I was put off by the thought that he had written and directed those films for the purpose of casting himself in the role of a nerd who sleeps with beautiful women. It would push me even further away if he continued this in his old age, but he fortunately doesn’t appear in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

I enjoyed this film a bit more than I expected, but it’s not a complete victory. I suppose this is a character-driven film, though the characters’ behavior is sometimes difficult to understand. This movie might appeal to lovers of romance, as long as they aren’t offended by the loose and shallow nature of its characters.

Not much was required of the actors except for Penélope Cruz, who plays a semi-psychotic lover. The rest of the characters are fairly conventional. The presence of a narrator was distracting, as he provided insights into the characters’ minds. Narration only works if handled well, as in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Concerning fine arts, this is a beautiful film. Soulful Spanish guitar accompanies breathtaking scenery in Barcelona and Oviedo. The characters drink wine, express themselves through art, and enjoy life. A few brief scenes in New York City provide noticeable contrast.

I appreciate this film, though it hasn’t left much of a lasting impact on me. I was left wondering if the characters had learned anything through the course of the story, and I wasn’t sure if I had any personal gain.


STEVE - What starts off as a proposition to a weekend of sightseeing and a threesome, quickly develops into a well crafted film on the subject of love and happily ever after.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is a terrific and engaging movie. The film is full of witty dialogue and smart characters, some of whom are logical, and others who are reckless and passionate. The film delves deep into the topic of love, and makes a beautiful exploration of the subject through the characters with their neurotic and sometimes irrational behaviors.

The plot follows two close friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson), who have decided to spend the summer in, of all places, Barcelona. It is the meeting of an attractive painter (Javier Bardem) and his proposition of a romantic weekend away…involving all of them that pushes the plot into interesting territory.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is a rare and skillfully made film, which makes it such a joy to view. Though surely this isn’t the screenwriter and director’s best work in his catalogue of over forty films, it is defiantly a wonderful refreshment from a summer of mediocre blockbusters (The Dark Knight excluded).

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