Sunday, March 8, 2009

Movie Review - Vicky Christina Barcelona

I saw Vicky Christina Barcelona last night and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I never really had any desire to see the film, but when my wife and a few of our friends came over for beers and a movie I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the movie.

Without spoiling too much of the plot I am going to try and describe why I really liked this movie. I thought visually the movie was awesome. I was supposed to go on an exchange to Spain in college but funding ran out and I never got the opportunity to go. I was pretty bitter for a while and this movie reminded me why. Spain looks incredible and the lifestyle depicted in the film, and what I know from my Spanish minor in college, seems like an awesome experience in itself. I think the film did an awesome job of analyzing the differences in culture through the interactions of the characters. Yeah these are generalizations of two different cultures but like many generalizations you can relate to them in some way. I found myself relating to both cultures and the different parts of life they value. I think the film elicited the torn feeling we often have between the different things we value.

In a pure entertainment value sense I was involved and intrigued by the plot and undertones. In line with most of Woody Allen's movies (from what I've heard) he uses a lot of sexual situations throughout the film. I think that rubs a lot of people the wrong way but I really thought it was tasteful and served a definite purpose. I feel like he used those sexual situations to push boundaries and challenge social norms and cultural limits we all experience. If you remain open minded and step back from your life for a minute I think you can appreciate the attempt to bring a curious examination of those norms to light. Whenever I think of weird social norms, trends, and the like I try and put myself in an alien's shoes. I know that sounds really stupid, but imagine if you came down to earth and saw these weird human creatures performing surgery on each other to stuff their breasts with bags of fluid (one example). It really puts a slightly different angle on things we just accept as normal. Back to my original point, if you try to step back for a second this film makes you question whether the things you are engrossed with during daily life are truly important in the grand scheme of things. I thought it was very interesting that Vicky and Christina were used almost as the two outer extremes on both ends of the spectrum with regard to what they value and love. Vicky valued stability, rationality and the realization of her plans for life. Christina on the other hand was a free spirit that was spontaneous. A girl who only knew what she didn't want (basically what Vicky did want), and everything else that took place was all in search of love. I think that the way the film ended was incredibly symbolic in the sense that no way of living life is the right way. Both characters ended the film seemingly unfulfilled and borderline unhappy, yet they both lived life and sought love in complete opposite ways. To me it was extremely insightful, in that you must discover what truly makes you happy and that abiding by, or completely disregarding for that matter, social pressures and the appeasement of others is not a truth in and of its self. We the viewers are left with a visual of the black and white, or in this case the blond and the brunette, who arrive at discontent from two very different paths and views of life. The movie ends having not quite completed the story, yet what it lacks in closure it makes up for having illustrated a valuable life lesson.

Great actors, great story, great message, great movie.

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