Monday, October 20, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

So I finally got along to seeing Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen’s latest take on love and romance. I do have to say that the film was worth the wait.

In traditional Allen fashion this is a confused and tangled story of characters looking for their life, their passion and their loves. Vicky and Cristina are best friends though they are as different as can be and decide to head to Vicky’s relative’s in Barcelona for the summer; Vicky is engaged to Doug a devoted but boring man and working on her Masters in Catalan culture, Cristina is a flight artist that cannot decide her medium and doesn’t know what she wants in a romance. Out for dinner one night they meet Juan Antonio who invites them to Oviedo with him for a weekend of culture and love making – he does not hide that this is his motive. Cristina is intrigued by Juan Antonio an pressures rigid Vicky into accompanying her with Juan Antonio. Though Vicky and Juan Antonio don’t immediately hit it off they do end up carrying a flame for each other that they hide as Juan Antonio begins a relationship with Cristina that becomes incredibly complex and eventually includes his ex-wife Maria Elena.

I am someone who has never been affected by the charms of Penelope Cruz, I really don’t think she is that good of an actress – in English. I think too much is going on in her head to translate from Spanish to English and as a result I have never really enjoyed her performances; however, she speaks mainly Spanish in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and I was amazed how large a difference it made in her performance. I can now begin to see the kind of talent that she really has, and I hope she can bring it to an English language film.

It is common knowledge that Scarlett has become Allen’s new muse. The funny thing about Scarlett’s muse status is that Allen didn’t want to work with her. In her first role with Allen in Match Point another actress was slotted in her part and dropped out at the last minute – Scarlett stepped in. Since working with her Allen can’t get enough of her. What was most interesting to me in their latest endeavor is that I believe in essence Scarlett was playing the traditional Allen character. Cristina is the Alvy Singer character who has impossible neurosis, quirky mannerisms, talks far too fast and is the crux of the tale – Cristina is the backbone of the story.

I used to consider Woody Allen an overrated filmmaker. However, in my post-film school life I have actually found a place for him in my film catalog. I deeply enjoy his movies and think that he is a filmmaker that has contributed to the art of film. I thank Scarlet Johansson for taking a last minute role in Match Point and reigniting Woody Allen’s zest for filmmaking.

Director & Writer: Woody Allen
Cristina: Scarlett Johansson
Vicky: Rebecca Hall
Juan Antonio: Javier Bardem
Maria Elena: Penelope Cruz
Doug: Chris Messina
Judy Nash: Patricia Clarkson
Mark Nash: Kevin Dunn
Narrator: Christopher Evan Welch

Juan Antonio: We are meant for each other and not meant for each other. It's a contradiction.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I loved it too. It's one of my favorite Allen movies. (Hannah and Her Sisters is #1, and Another Woman is in there somewhere) Although I've got to say that I'd argue that Vicky's the traditional Allen character, not Cristina. This, I think, is Scarlett's best performance in an Allen movie to date. She's consistently underwhelmed me since Lost In Translation.