Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona


Sorry, Viola Davis, team Penelope for the win! I think what makes Maria Elena interesting is her being neurotic. Thanks to that, the performance is memorable and becomes an instant favorite. Although people would say that Cruz did nothing but rely on hysteria as an excuse for acting depth, I think that she was able to portray Maria Elena very well. Beyond the frequent bouts of insanity you see a human being trying to understand a complex relationship and trying hard to make it work.

What I really liked about this movie was the narration. It is very much like reading a book. The narrator tells you everything you want to know about the story and alternates with the lines delivered by the characters. Usually, using a voice over narration for a movie is annoying but for this film it works out. It sort of gets you hooked because once in a while the soundtrack begins to play and then the narrator butts in, and then there is a montage of events. It gives the illusion that the plot is fast-paced.

What makes the movie funny is the oddity of the situation regarding a third party. Usually third parties destroy a relationship but in this particular movie the third party makes the relationship whole. Absurd, because you would think it is impossible in the real world, yet you want to believe that it is, because your fantasies are fueled by what you see on screen. Weird.

Scarlett Johanson's look and smoky-paos voice makes her the perfect third-party person. I do not know why but her hair seemed to jive with the overall ambiance of Barcelona in this film. I would not say that the cinematography was blonde, perhaps there were just traces of sepia but somehow Scarlett fit well in it.

As for Vicky, the actress was also effective as the reluctant motormouth who seemed to be the exact opposite of her best friend but turned out to be almost similar. She is funny when she spoke and tried to over analyze things, which was understandable because she was doing a thesis on Catalan Identity.

The title is very appropriate because aside from Vicky and Cristina, Barcelona really made an impression. The city is just so picturesque and the manner by which Woody Allen captured it on film makes you want to stare at it for a long time and admire its beauty. Actually, the first half of the film was like a mini tour.

Javier Bardem's character was funny because on the surface he was just plain but beyond that you know that he is also neurotic in a way. Funny how frank the person was when it comes to flirting and trying to get what he wants but the truth is that he was just an accessory, I think the three women dominated the film.

I also enjoyed how only three of the four characters appeared together at the same time. I think there was not one instance when all the four appeared together on-screen. I think that way some sort of balance between screen time was achieved for each character which led to the better demonstration of one character's relationship with another, making the viewers understand them better as people.

I love Bardem's and Cruz's chemistry on-screen. Hearing them argue in Spanish, then in English, and then in Spanish again, neurotic! Are they a couple in real life?

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