Vicky Cristina Barcelona
have to love Woody Allen. No matter how old he gets; no matter how serious
his subject is; no matter how properly his characters speak; no matter how
much art, philosophy, religion and commerce they ponder; no matter how many
beautiful settings they visit – when you get down to the crux of the story,
Allen still can’t help but be a bit of a pervert.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It has brilliant, neurotic characters.
They are staying in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. They are
talented, well-educated, capable, artistic people living charmed lives,
pondering the mysteries of love and compatibility. They are well off. They
are philosophical. They are just a bit neurotic and self-obsessed. They
can afford to stay in Europe for months on a whim.
Still, when you get past all the window dressing, it is simply the story of
a suave Spanish gent who is trying to seduce a pair of beautiful American
tourists into having a threesome.
Everything gets more tangled and intertwined than anyone really expects – as
often happens when one tries to live out their most extreme fantasies – but
the heart of the matter all comes down to wanting to get laid and the old
dream of a man having two (eventually three) women who are passionately in
love with him and fighting over him.
also Allen’s best film since Match Point
a few years ago. Perhaps some of the freshness comes from the fact that –
like that film – Allen is moving out of his safety zone and exploring a
place far different from the New York milieu which was for decades
the only world he cared to chronicle. In Match Point, Allen tried
leaving behind the bustling New York Jewish intellectual world for the more
settled and repressed British higher classes. Sadly, the shot in the
arm which travel gave him did not last into the other few films he followed
up with in the UK; therefore he is moving again –
now to fiery and passionate Spain.It
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson – who has become
Allen’s muse of late, reappearing in his films like Diane Keaton and Mia
Farrow had in years past) are best friends who have known each other since
college. The friendship has flourished despite the fact – perhaps because –
they are so basically different.
Vicky is smart and sensible, looking for a life of stability. She has only
seriously dated one man, the man she is about to marry – a reliable if
slightly dull young exec.
Cristina is more passionate. She throws herself into a series of probably
doomed affairs in a possibly fruitless search for the one perfect love.
While traveling together in Europe, they are offered the opportunity to stay
at the mansion of Vicky’s relatives (Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn) in
scenic Barcelona for a couple of months.
an art show, they meet a charming Spanish painter named Juan Antonio. Upon
their first discussion, the painter rakishly offers to fly the two women for
a weekend in another town – a glamorous trip which will comprise of art,
first class hotels, fine dining, sightseeing and a little group sex.
Vicky is – quite
rightly – suspicious of the offer, while Cristina is somewhat intrigued by
the handsome, mysterious lothario. Therefore
Vicky agrees to go along on the trip to watch out for her impulsive friend.
While the planned
threesome never occurs, at different points both friends become sexually
involved and fall in love with the man – though each knows it may not be in
their best interest. Things become even more complicated when Juan
Antonio’s fiery, passionate and suicidal ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope
Cruz) returns. Juan Antonio has never lost his passion for his slightly crazed
ex-wife; however they can’t seem to be together without a buffer for any
extended period of time before their passion overflows into anger. For a
short period Cristina fills this buffer role, but a three-way love affair
between them seems doomed from the start.
man, I’m always suspicious of films where too many woman are all fixated on
one guy (rarely happens – wish it did!) as mere fantasy. However, it is
possible to see what all of them see in Bardem, with his shaggy European
good looks, thoughtful intelligence and courtly manner.
know, though, that it is unhealthy for all involved – and despite a good
amount of restrained passion and dramatic emotional upheaval, they all
basically land in the same place they started out, with only their
friendships and memories to keep them warm.
Which, I guess, is sort of the point. Sometimes
fantasies are best left behind.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 15, 2008.