Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Now that I've seen for the first time a film by Woody Allen, I can almost call myself a cinephile. Honestly, I liked this film. Of course, there were times when I felt that the film went through some moments of clumsiness (speaking about the script). However, this film was (and will always be if I watch it again) enjoyable for me, because I have a "celebrity crush" on Scarlett Johansson. On another note, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is not your usual romantic film because it's a beautiful and smart exploration of what people want from a love relation.

The story follows two American tourists. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two best friends who decide to spend the summer in Barcelona. In fact, Vicky's friend said that Vicky and Cristina can stay at her house. Eventually, Vicky and Cristina meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a painter they saw for the first time at an art gallery. Considering their different mind frame, they both become enamoured with Juan Antonio. Speaking about their personality, Vicky looks for stability (she's going to be married) while Cristina doesn't hesitate to have romantic adventures because she's looking for "the right man". However, things get a little bit complicated when Juan Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), resurfaces.

Obviously, despite being a very beautiful film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona certainly has its flaws. The film definitely has a fast pace, but the problem that I had is when, at one point, the film momentarily loses its focus. In fact, while the film is about Vicky's and Cristina's exploration of the meaning of love through their relation with Juan Antonio, it starts throwing in the idea that Vicky's friend has about love. Since this loss of focus doesn't last for quite long, it turns out to be a minor annoyance.

Evidently, the film's touch of magic lies in its wonderful simplicity and sharp dialogues that are not afraid to look sophisticated. Moreover, these dialogues beautifully render the contradictions of the characters. For instance, while Juan Antonio still has feelings for Maria Elena. However, he knows that this love is doomed (because of verbal violence and Maria Elena's aggressiveness so to speak) and this is why he hopes that either Vicky or Cristina will have an interest for him (this will happen). Besides, the film becomes extremely interesting when Vicky and Cristina wonders if it's worth it to review their values when it comes to love.

In the end, no matter what happens to the characters, Woody Allen has that ability to make us care for the very attractive characters. Moreover, without revealing too much, the film is a journey meaning that at the end of it, the characters (Vicky and Cristina) come to see, in their own way, what it means to make a choice by following their heart. All in all, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a must-see if you enjoy watching simple (but full of depth and subtlety) performance (coming from Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and Javier Bardem) or hilarity (coming from Penélope Cruz).

Rating: 4/5

Origin:USA/Spain (2008)
Length:96 minutes
Genre:Romantic comedy
Screenplay:Woody Allen
Director:Woody Allen
Starring:Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz

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