Thursday, April 09, 2009

"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008) - Movie Review

I learned a very valuable lesson not a while ago about tackling emotionally tangled issues. Never be proud that a solution you thought is the perfect one for it. Logic is far from it and quite honestly, it is for a good reason. If it is logical, life would be extra boring than usual. These unpredictability of human mind makes a good ride if there is a pursuit to come out of it for sanity. These ups, downs, further downs and depressing downs are the paths not to find meaning but to sustain and endure for a wonderful ethereal memory which melts you for another illogical emotional mistake. Still beautiful though. Such is one what Vicky (Rebecca Hall) in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” makes with the charming artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem).

My first Woody Allen’s flick and it is ease at its best and complexities made crystal. The world of the people Allen takes us through are confused, distorted and quite unsolvable but we see through it. We see through it because of the narration, normally for telling events is used to explain the state of mind, philosophies and outlook of the characters. Not because of the failure to emote it but in this film it is essential. We got to know their emotions well laid out before they speak out to their lovers.

Vicky and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) come to yes Barcelona for summer with a nice middle aged couple Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and Mark (Kevin Dunn). Vicky is an art lover but not too artsy to separate her from the cycle of current structure of society and Cristina badly needs to break out from it. They enjoy the town, wine, restaurant, architecture and finally the same man Juan Antonio. There is no need to tell how voluptuous and a walking lust image Johansson is and when Javier Bardem comes as Juan offering a plane ride to a town they have not heard and openly proposing for a pleasure of food, sightseeing and making love, how much more cinematic and impossible it could get? But well, they are indeed Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson doing a great bit of acting making it casual from director Woody Allen. It works cliched but more than any one could ask for. Vicky of course disapproves of this Spaniard and sticks to protect her friend even so in the societal way of obligation. Secrecy is the last resort Allen opts for in how Vicky will be the one getting seduced by Antonio first. The moment it contrives upon is more than how-to approach because Juan means and says what he really means and says. And with the dark liquid of bold and passion ignites their night while Cristina is recovering from her ulcer.

But I am getting way ahead of myself. This seductive man has a seductive and violent history in terms of relationship. That would be Penélope Cruz as Maria Elena. She shouts in spanish and as much as clear she sees Juan that is the same reason she hates the life. She cannot stand the people running away from the truth they are standing right on. This knowledge drives her to hate the world around and of course goes on performing unsuccessful suicide attempts. I will let you see the film to understand how Cristina, Maria Elena and Juan end up together but when Cristina comes up with her news of leaving them, Maria could not stand it. Juan on the other hand as the light headed, cool, laid back and living in the moment guy, well you see what I am trying to say his reaction towards it.

What are these circling thoughts in our head which tells and dictates the values, structure and the habit of living along? We know we could not resist it or stop from thinking but it is a non-stop ferris wheel and we are stuck in it. We say one thing and think another. We are the perfectly flawed machines of emotional wrecks. Yet we survive. We are civilized and we keep the insanity to ourselves believing how much of a freak we are. For some, the thought that every one are crazy is a little consoling and for some it is the denial which helps but for rest it is the inability to control. That scares us. What is this has to do with the film and why am I going on like shrink? The characters in the “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” carry on this different styles of life and wondering on the change they could bring or to end the quest they have been searching. Yet it is a revolving door and depressing it may sound, routine is a part of life we come to embrace for orderliness. We may hate it but that keeps things in control and we want to be in control.

The film is not as serious as I might make it sound but it ignites the thoughts. That is the intention and rightfully so, you got to absorb it. It is funny when Maria Elena speaks in Spanish in front of Cristina which we think she does to irritate her and maintain secrecy but soon we realize that she cannot keep it in her head when she is emotional. Juan and Maria are obviously as the film stresses are the perfect blend of life but also the perfect mistake for long run. They both hate routine and when the pair becomes that chore, it is a catch-22. Woody Allen while concentrates on these four characters - Vicky, Cristina, Juan and Maria takes through the side line parallels of their situation through Judy and Vicky’s fiance, Doug (Chris Messina). They are product of this great human world with complex feelings and irrational logic. Society is the best medicine we could all find to live along but it also defeats the free flow of the living.


vani said...

finally you watched it! woo-hoo

Ashok said...

Yes Vani ! And I liked it a lot!