Vicky, Christina, Barcelona (review) — Authentic BCN displayed?
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a 2008 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. The plot centers on two American women, Vicky and Cristina, who spend a summer in Barcelona, where they meet an artist, Juan Antonio, who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena. The film was shot in Spain in Barcelona, Avilés and Oviedo, and was Allen’s fourth consecutive film shot outside the United States.
This is actually one of the few movies I don’t like, and I feel really sure and strongly on this one.
For one, I feel like VCB is exactly like a trial project, an overly-commercialized film with a filter too warm and a story too feeble. It comes off as viewing Barcelona through rose-tinted glasses, where the protagonists have nothing else in the world to worry about but their feelings and nowhere else to do exactly that. To me, this story could have happened in any city, it does not have a solid reason to take place in Barcelona. Also I cannot help noticing that the scenes that appeared in the movie are very typically touristy, with an equally outsider point of view — it fits every stereotype of Spanish impressions for foreigners, and although I cannot argue that this movie must have done wonders for the tourism/image of Barcelona, to me, works of Gaudi and Milo are definitely not the only thing Barcelona could offer. This movie is specifically set in Barcelona, and I cannot help but regret how it only scratched the surface of Catalan life.
In my opinion, life is life, it would not alter too much across the globe, therefore, how different people face life in different environments under various circumstances is the key value to unlock a script that would truly touch universally. It is honestly a pity how VCB is sugar-coated so much on love and lifestyles.
The performance of Penelope Cruz in VCB should be applauded though, without her the film would be much more lifeless; the two American characters had rather stiff performances.
On a more personal note, I do not like any project that focus solely on love and feelings (much less a story with unconvincing points of view), life is chaotic and full of different aspects/possibilities, it should not be so thinly portrayed and simply explained. I am truly taken aback because this is the first Woody Allen I do not enjoy.