Thursday, January 29, 2009

Vicky Christina Barcelona

I didn’t want to like Vicky Christina Barcelona. The plot synopsis that I had heard was that it included a three-some and was basically a love story about these three people. Not really my kind of movie BUT Javier Bardem is in it and he did such a good job in No Country for Old Men I thought I should give it a chance. That and Penelope Cruz was nominated for a Golden Globe, Oscar and Screen Actors Guild Award and the film itself won the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy film. I had to at least attempt to watch it.

In all honesty I didn’t pay attention to the film completely. I made my dinner and was working on a project on my computer while it played, but I was still able to follow the story and appreciate what it had to offer.

The first thing to catch my attention was the opening credits. The music that played set the tone for the music perfectly. It was simple, yet “arty” and it fit with the rudimentary credits. There was nothing special or unique about them. Just a black screen with white lettering and a font that held a small embellishment but not like it was trying too hard. It was what it was, nothing more, and nothing less.

The second thing that struck me was the use of a narrator, an omniscient, omnipresent voice that introduces us to the characters. The voice is matter of fact, decisive, and alert, but it offers no feeling or sympathy. We’re informed of events as they happen, like watching a sporting event but without the feeling or passion that is often in the announcer’s voice. This narrator gives us the character’s thoughts as if we were reading a book and imagining the story for ourselves.

I like this approach. The way the camera cuts up the scenes and the narrator provides insight perfectly allows the viewer to make Vicky and Christina’s story one’s own. As the movie progressed I found myself frustrated with the characters for making decisions I would not have made in their positions, but I cared for them and wanted them to find what they were looking for.

Ultimately Vicky Christina Barcelona is a story about finding oneself. All the relationship stuff that’s thrown into the plot is there for scandal to make the movie seem artistic and help promote it, but the root of it all comes down to self discovery. Both Vicky and Christina are in Barcelona to escape from their everyday lives. They need a break, a change of scenery, and Spain offers these two New Yorkers that possibility.

Their summer unfolds and we’re taken on a series of adventures that are cautious and guarded as well as careless and dangerous. The good and the bad, the wise and the ill-advised moments are viewed through a lens of self-discovery. We’re all looking for something more and what the “more” is I don’t know if we’ll ever know or even find, and that’s what this movie is about; Vicky and Christina searching for more and wondering where it will all lead them, living with their choices each day, and hoping for the best.

I won’t tell you how the movie ends in case you want to see it yourself. I will say that I like the ending. It isn’t pretending to be something else. It is honest and real and true to life. And as someone who is going to begin an adventure overseas in the next year I appreciated the value in its message – at least the message I took away from it – that sometimes what you’re looking for isn’t what you’re looking for at all.

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