I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona almost a week ago. It happened absolutely accidentally, just like some things in the film itself. It just was on the TV and we decided to watch it. Well, I decided to watch it anyway and persuaded hubby to stay and keep me company. Not sure he wanted to watch a non-sci-fi film about, huh, relationships. Nevertheless…
What have we got there? Two friends, Vicky and Cristina go on holiday to Spain. As we are told immediately, they have absolutely different views on love and relationships. Whilst Vicky, who is due to get married in Autumn, is a bit of an Edwardian lady who believes in marriage and fully planned life without even a thought of cheating, Cristina is more of a hippie who believes in free love, romance, and some tragedy. The two girls stay with their friends, a pretty well-off couple who seem to have a perfect life in the perfect Spain. But one day Vicky and Cristina meet Juan Antonio, an artist recovering after a bitter and violent divorce, who invites them to join his bohemian lifestyle whilst on holiday…
Yes, only whilst on holiday, that’s the key. It’s a small detail that we, together with Vicky and Cristina, totally miss and as a result get carried away into the perfect world of a Spanish holiday. Had I chosen to stay up all night and write the review immediately, I am sure it would have been completely different. I would still have been under the impression. But the next morning the film already seemed as far away as a holiday in Barcelona and the magic spell was clearly gone. Maybe this is right after all. It gives you an idea of how the characters’ lives continued. How? Just like yours. Back to civilization, routine, normal life. No more sweet intoxication (even literally, see how much wine they drink) of perfect life.
There is hardly any need to explain why holiday life was perfect, particularly in the case of the main characters. Amazing weather, nothing in particular to do (even though Vicky did try to do some studying), rich friends providing accommodation, no work, no problems of everyday life, no credit crunch in Spain after all. So what can one focus on in such conditions? Of course, heart matters. What else?
And what we see growing in these laboratory conditions is perfect unconditional love, love that people are capable of, at least in perfect circumstances. Love that’s not limited to marriage, to one person, one gender, to social approval or anything at all. Love that can last… Until the end of the holiday or until the mind kicks in. The mind and a growing sense of dissatisfaction, the nagging feeling that things could be better or should be worse.
Enough spoilers, here’s a few words about the way the film is made. Very beautifully. Every single shot is like a beautiful painting or at least a postcard from Spain. Of course, except the scenes with Vicky’s fiance Doug in America, which make Vicky Christina Barcelona reminiscent of similar scenes in Local Hero. Doug, on the whole, is the only happy character because he is a chronic idiot influenced by friends with anal impulses (see Babylon by V. Pelevin) and doesn’t mind it.
I haven’t got any particular complaints about the acting, except that I didn’t find Rebecca Hall very convincing as Vicky and I couldn’t get rid of the impression that she was in some soap, like Friends, rather than in a big screen film. And, by the way, despite all the arty stuff, I didn’t believe that Juan Antonio, and think he was just desperate to bed as many women as possible, adjusting the sides of his personality for each of them. Just my opinion. And his paintings were pretentious as well.
So, my conclusions. Beautifully made, nicely acted, thought-provoking, but with a short lasting effect. Worth watching, I would say. If you are not into love and fluffy romance, at least, like my husband, you will appreciate the idea that a manual camera is very good for learning photography.