Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Directed by Woody Allen. Before I saw this my sister-in-law Nancy warned me that it made her mad that she'd never get her two hours back. I would say that this is not a good movie for people who don't like thoughtful stories about love, featuring beautifully shot Spanish scenery, and well acted by great looking people.
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (or as the teens at the rec center are calling it, VCB) is a fairly sophisticated exploration of chemistry in relationships. Specifically, it considers the problem of how relationships require both attraction and devotion. However, not only do individuals vary in their basic capability for each of these things, different couples seem to have chemistry more or less prone toward attraction and devotion. Allen portrays individuals and couples of all possible combinations.
This is a weirdly romantic movie. Without recapping all the crazy couplings, this seems to be statement against objective notions of what constitutes a "functional" or "dysfunctional" relationship. Ultimately the happiest couple here is the most conventionally dysfunctional, but they are the most passionate. As long as they remain smart enough to ignore conventional measures of attraction and devotion and express these feeling as their hearts dictate, they maintain relational satisfaction.
This flick got a lot of attention because it's full of really hot actresses slinking around in thin dresses. I think some people are just creeped out by Woody Allen and the very idea that he's behind the camera or wrote this story is enough for many to be turned off by it. Allen is at a little bit of a disadvantage in that he is both old and well-known. Unknown directors without any gossip baggage in their lives have more license to pose difficult philosophical questions in their work than directors whose work asks questions that may have uncomfortable autobiographical relevance -- or at least can be rationalized as such. Further, is there ageism at work here? Do older directors seem creepy if they explore sexuality?
Tough. This is the smartest, most honest movie he's made in years. These days, when he just tosses off comedies he reveals the sad fact that he's lost a lot of his comedy muscle. Sad to say, but someone needs to point it out.