Filmed in the exotic laps of Spain, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an ode to art. It resembles the sceneries of Barcelona, the mood of artists portraying their art, and has a warm and sultry feeling. Being chaotic and serene, at the same time, Woody Allen pulls off this gem with his usual vivacity offing a thorough exploration of the emotional rollercoaster Vicky and Cristina pass through in the breezy summer of Barcelona. Vicky Cristina Barcelona compiles the ideal of European Cinema, with an exquisite atmosphere that is soothing to the psyche and gives you a heartfelt, chirpy vive when the end credits roll. It’s unlike your run-of-the mill romantic dramas that are so associated with Hollywood. On the contrary, Vicky Cristina… is a platonic drama that serves as homage to the spiritual air of Europe—only carrying Allen’s trademark stamp, the mood of swing, and the height of romanticism.
The narrator (Christopher Evan Welch) introduces us to two contrasts, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson)—one a student of Catalan Studies, the other an amateur filmmaker. Completely different in ideologies and philosophies, Vicky and Cristina explore life and love through the lens of an artist, an erratic man, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Both fall in love with this riddle, and when his ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) makes an appearance, things don’t go as smoothly, or as awkwardly as both had imagined…
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a bohemian story, with an unconventional charm—giving it a humorous and a sumptuous subject matter. The treatment from Woody Allen capturing Catalan Art mixed with a soothing background score comprising of the wonderful hymns of the Spanish Guitar; Vicky Cristina becomes a joy—an arresting episode of exploring morality, desire, and the grand question of what is right and what is wrong. Hidden beneath these heavy introspective themes is a light humor circling the essence of Vicky Cristina, with a witty and delicious screenplay authenticating the artistic vibe of the movie… The unpredictable characters—appearing as free spirits—all of them share an uncanny pattern, which works beautifully in making Vicky Cristina an absurdist cinema groping with the flux of emotions.
Mirroring European Cinema with its rich ambience and a minimalistic style of storytelling, not to ignore a colorful way of filming the movie, the story itself is mighty interesting, but the top drawer would have to be the fantabulous screenplay that makes Vicky Cristina such an engrossing movie. The unfolding of this zealous tale and the subsequent drama becomes a joy to witness and makes one feel warm from within—a little bit giddy watching the eccentric summer romance. With that said, the story does dip somewhere in the middle. Immediately after the arrival of Maria Elena, the art of the movie pegs a predictable theme, with the pace dropping—hovering around clichéd angles and a plot twist much explored in romantic dramas. Although, the symmetry revives the movie after the dip, especially the sequences after Cristina drops the bomb, the following delusion of Vicky complimented by the uneven nature of Juan Antonio builds a buoyant climax—one filled with familiar traits of the characters and a bittersweet romantic ending.
To put it into perspective, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is one of Woody Allen’s most artistic attempts. Like art on a palate, the movie has tinges of sparks and a color making it a contradictory saga that is polarizing as well as a pulsating take on the puzzle that is life and the riddle that are emotions. In a way, Vicky Cristina critics life and no matter how muddled one may seem, parallel to a painting, life does have some sort of a decoration. Whether it is conscious or unconscious, people end up following their elected path—whether they like it or not, that’s another thing! After all, what could they do? It’s in their nature!
Passionate, captivating, akin to a magnum drama, Vicky Cristina manages to touch your heart and propels you to taste the wine of Spanish Romanticism. The performances leave an impression, and the whole movie is like watching sculpture unfold on the screen in all its diversities. One of Woody Allen’s finest movies and an extremely underrated gem, this film is a class apart and one movie that certainly would make you jubilant. Vicky Cristina Barcelona, in essence, is poetry in motion and a movie most definitely worthy of decorating in your video library.
Title Image Credit – Deviant Art