April 24, 2009

Movie Review: Vicky Christina Barcelona

That Woody Allen – he sure does have some theories about relationships. 'Vicky Christina Barcelona' (heretofore to be referred to as VCB) tells the story of 2 friends – conveniently well-off enough to spend a summer in Barcelona – and their relationship with a Spanish painter, who himself has a complicated relationship with his ex-wife.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is pragmatic. She’s engaged to a respectable Wall Street type guy. She’s educated. She knows where her life is going. She wears khaki. Christina (Scarlett Johansson) has wavy flowy hair that’s made to blow in the wind. She has dreams. She envisions a life where, through creative work and intense relationships, she’ll experience real passion. Over three months in Spain, they both fall in love with the same man and are forced to re-evaluate the lives they’ve always planned for themselves.

Penelope Cruz doesn’t enter the movie until more than an hour in, but you’ve heard so much about her character that you don’t feel like you know her any less than the rest. Her Maria Elena is a great, powerhouse character and one that Cruz fits to a “t” – She’s all polarizing, fiery intrigue and it’s obvious from her first moments on screen why the Academy loved her.

I really enjoyed this movie. It feels different enough from a standard Woody Allen flick that I didn’t feel like I’d seen it before, while also having enough definitive Woody Allen moments to make it warmly familiar (think: rambling conversations about relationships, an established marriage that’s not what it seems...). Quintessential Woody Allen moveis deal with some pretty intense subjects (infidelity, suicide, drug abuse), while somehow staying light. They’re like fairy tales in this way, and the voiceover used in VCB only further served this. Sure, sometimes I felt like I was watching ‘Arrested Development’, but Allen loves characters that are just a little too ridiculous, a little too larger than life – characters that are easy to build a story around. And it’s even easier when you quite literally tell your audience the story.

Before the official Twix Bar rating reveal, three side notes:
  1. Considering how central Javier Bardem’s character is, I don’t have too much to say about him. Luckily, friendo, all frightening memories of ‘No Country for Old Men’ were erased. In fact, I felt more like he was channeling Denny Duquette.
  2. I’m not a huge ScarJo fan, but I wouldn’t debate that Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson are two of the most lusted after actresses around. So, I find it pretty shocking that the fact that they make out in the movie didn’t get more internet play. Has the world matured?
  3. This movie made me really want to drink red wine.
I think almost everyone would like this movie – if you haven't already (and you may have - it had a Very Long Wait for forever on Netflix) definitely check it out. 7.75 Twix bars!


Alissa said...

I also just recently watched this and I completely agree with everything you said here. Nice review.