Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Last week I went to see “Vicky Christina Barcelona” with my friend, Maria. Clearly Woody Allen was trying to make an Almodovar film, and he completely succeeds—Almodovar’s muse, Penelope Cruz, obviously works Spanish magic for him, as well. In most films about Americans abroad, the emphasis is on the Americans while the natives provide background, color and texture. Here, while the film is still about Americans, they’re seen through Spanish eyes—it could be a Spanish film—and the view isn’t always flattering. Allen is a master at nailing the self-satisfied torpor of the American WASP male—Vicky’s husband, Doug, for instance, looks attractive enough, doesn’t do or say anything particularly bad, yet comes off as simply awful. The women—Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson)—are more carefully and sympathetically drawn as they make choices (the men seem unaware that there even are choices) about art, love, and experience that will determine the course of their lives. Then there’s the Penelope Cruz character—Maria Elena—who has been endowed with more natural gifts than all the other people in the film put together—but who can’t make use of them because she’s at the mercy of such out-of-control emotions that it’s best that guns and knives stay out of reach. Afterwards Maria and I went out for a drink, and during the conversation she asked me which woman I identified with. Certainly not the staid Vicky, I thought, her choices were those I’d rejected, so it had to be Christina, with her determination to plumb life’s experience to the max. Then, of course, I asked Maria, “What about you?”—and she, dedicated museum administrator and conscientious single mom that she is, answered without hesitation: “Maria Elena. I work really hard to keep that under wraps.”

Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Maria Barcelona".

P.S. Researching this I found that Pedro Almodovar has a blog, where I read about his migraines and opinion on Penelope Cruz's hairstyle in Allen's film. Also that we share the same birthday.


Joanne Mattera said...

It was a light romp and I enjoyed it. Then I promptly forgot about it. Except for this: Do you suppose Allen allowed (or encouraged) the narrator to say the Catalan names and places with such a miserable American pronunciation? Gowdy? Park Gwell? That was terrible!
Oh, and didn't it look as if the painters where channeling Tapies? (Or as the narrator might have said, Tap-pies.)

CAP said...

Cruz just gets better with age, or maybe she just excels in Spanish films.

Civic Center said...

I find Woody Allen too offensive on all kinds of grounds, way before he became a public pariah, to want to see any of his movies, and everytime I do do end up seeing one of them, every prejudice is confirmed.

But thank you, thank you, thank you for the link to the Aldomovar blog. It's great.