Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

A film review by Maria Alina Co

Watching this film is one of those rare times I succumb to watching a movie I don’t know anything about. With the prices of tickets these days, I research the film’s synopsis beforehand so I’d be assuaged I’ll be spending good money for it. But since I won free passes at the recent Cinexpo, I thought what the hell, a movie for free, why not?

Besides, it’s not as if Vicky (let’s call it Vicky to save up on words) is lacking on film credit bankability. For one, it’s written and directed by Woody Allen. And seeing the movie’s poster in Megamall, I thought if Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson’s not enough to spur a film buff’s curiosity, then I don’t know what else.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is not a whole name of a person. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends who decide to stay in Barcelona for the summer. At the start of the film, the narrator disclosed that both girls are complete opposites of each other. Serious, practical, finishing her masters on “Catalan identity” and engaged to be married to no-nonsense Doug, Vicky is bordering on being uptight and traditional. Cristina is your typical hopelessly lost girl. She is impulsive and spontaneous and currently recovering from a bad break-up and the embarrassment of writing, directing and starring in a 12-minute love story short film she hates.
But when they meet artistic and charming Antonio, rumored to have had a violent relationship with his ex-wife, the fun and seduction begins. And both girls find themselves in a most unlikely love triangle.

What follows are a series of twists and turns, guaranteed to tickle and to tease. With Juan Antonio, their lives change completely, whether for good or for bad.

The comedy takes a notch higher, when Juan Antonio receives a call from Maria Elena, his ex-wife, asking for help as she tried to commit suicide. Cristina, despite her hesitation, is forced to live with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena under the same roof. Penelope Cruz is a surprising revelation. Her role as a crazy, bordering on demented artist is both convincing and entertaining. In fact, even for a supporting role, her presence in the film is more powerful and memorable that Scarlett’s or Rebecca’s. Which is perhaps why she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, among other awards.

Vicky is a refreshing, memorable film worth to watch, simply because it’s a complete deviation from the usual rom-com flicks in Hollywood. In my opinion, these formula romantic comedies are getting tiresome and predictable.

For once, a love story revolves around the quirks and ironies of the characters in it, without the usual reactions and card-board portrayals Hollywood flicks give.

Besides, the sizzling scene between Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson is worth the time.

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