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Vicky Cristina Barcelona : Movie Review

February 27, 2009

Note: *This post might contain some spoilers*.

There is a quote in this film : “Life is short. Life is Dull. Life is full of pain. This is a chance for something special.”-Juan Antonio while trying to seduce Vicky and Cristina. This take on Life has been of particular interest to Woody Allen. In his career spanning over 30 years he has written some of the most interesting and marvelous screenplays about the intricacies of life and how we end up weaving a complex web of emotions around us. His latest rendition made in 2008  “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is set in the charming neighbourhoods of Barcelona and Oviedo (both in Spain), traversing the life of 4 characters which Woody Allen paints with great dexterity. The film also cleverly depicts how complex the concept of love is and how incomplete our lives are.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) decide to spend their summer in Barcelona, Spain. A distant relative of Vicky had offered them to stay over at her place. During their stay in Barcelona, Cristina is both intrigued and charmed by a painter named Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who has recently gone through a divorce with his ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz). Juan Antonio charms both of them and offers to take them to Oviedo for a weekend. Cristina who is by nature very impulsive agrees to Juan’s request, but Vicky who is more realistic of the two disagrees. As the characters set forth to begin a journey of what turns out to be a complex tale of life, love and our psyche Woody Allen sums down everything about love in three words, “Love is  Transient”. #Agreed.

There has always been a mysterious element about Woody Allen’s movies I have seen so far (Very few actually, 4 to be exact!). His stories are very simple, yet the series of events and the consequences that the characters endure is extremely complex. Some always end up finding a philosophical angle to his stories which I fail to understand. But it all changed with “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. Maybe I do understand the relevance and the possibility of these events. It’s almost a perfectly natural transition from one state to another. Any other conclusion…well, I guess it will not have the brilliance of Woody Allen’s style in them! The manner in which the characters evolve through the story is beautifully captured on screen. In this movie, perhaps the most complex of all characters is that of Cristina’s. Her life is so incomplete and all she can come up with is more questions than answers. Vicky on the other hand, realises exactly what she is looking for, yet cannot do anything about what she will be missing in her life. On the other hand, Maria Elena who almost always suffers from extreme mood swings is quitely likely another interesting character in the movie. Her efforts in trying to reason with Juan Antonio evoke some questions on morality and our general outlook of life. Juan Antonio who’s the common link among the three women has a brilliantly written role. He’s bold, gentle and has a no-bullshit approach to everything in life.

Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson are both brilliant in their roles. There are some lengthy lines which both of them have and they are extremely good in their style of approach, enunciation and infusing a certain element of romanticism in their characters. While Rebecca does walk away with laurels for her role, Scarlett continues to grow more as an actress under the aegis of Woody Allen. She looks way too gorgeous than her usual self…maybe it was the environs of Spanish countryside! Javier Bardem, who won the Oscar last year for his role in “No Country for Old Men” has a completely different role in this film. If you have liked his performance in “No Country for Old Men”, you are not likely to forget Bardem’s portrayal of Juan Antonio too. One of my favourite scenes in the movie is his initial tryst with Vicky and Cristina in a restaurant…watch it and you will realise how brilliantly Woody Allen has written this role. Penelope Cruz in her Oscar winning role is stunning. She’s almost eccentric, rebellious and impulsive. Everytime she’s on screen, she just owns it! The flip flopping between Spanish and English in her role is another stroke of brilliance. It adds a comic flavour to the plot…I couldn’t help smiling when she shouts “Why are you shouting at me?!” almost thrice in a scene…watch it…watch it.

The film also owes a great deal to the cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe who captures the beauty of the Spanish Countryside beautifully. And of course, Woody Allen…14 of his works have been nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay so far and maybe Vicky Cristina Barcelona could probably have been too!. This film may not be the best work by Woody Allen, but certainly one which you can enjoy. He understands or rather lets his characters to evolve with the story. He probably is one of the few directors who continue to experiment with philosophy, love, life, identity among many other themes so elaborately. The touch of perfection never comes or maybe leaving the premise so open ended, Woody gives us a reason to think more about the themes, story, characters. I think, that’s where his stroke of genius lies in…:)

Watch this film…most probably you will love it. Anyway, why would you wanna miss watching three gorgeous women on screen!!! It’s not everytime, you see such lavish beauty on screen….watch it for the performances. Watch it for the questions it raises from what we want from our lives. Two thumbs up!

P.S: I so wanna go to Spain…it’s too beautiful…:)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2009 9:33 am

    I am sure you would’ve seen the movie another time to write this review! 😛

    • Hemanth permalink*
      February 27, 2009 9:35 am

      :P…How did you come to that conclusion??? You mean to understand the plot completely?!..:D…Hehehe…I did understand it the first I saw it..I liked it..so watched it again to make sure I haven’t missed out on any of those dialogues!..:)

  2. February 27, 2009 10:01 am

    haven’t seen it yet.no spoilers for me to spoil the fun 😛 So will comment once i am done watching.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      February 27, 2009 10:09 am

      Sure…Sure!..:) Watch it! Scarlett is so gorgeous!…:D

  3. Udki permalink
    February 27, 2009 8:22 pm

    I totally loved Penelope´s acting in this movie. She was brilliant!

    And the dialogue “Life is short. Life is Dull. Life is full of pain. This is a chance for something special” is too good. Especially, that whole argument in the pub when he tries to invite them is really funny.

    • Hemanth permalink*
      February 27, 2009 8:24 pm

      @Udki…Obb ra! Inkenti Late…nuvvu Kooda oka Juan Antonio apoyyi…picchi Ekkichu!..:D

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