I kept hearing and reading that Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the latest Woody Allen film is his best in a decade. Considering that the last one I see from beginning to end was “Bullets Over Broadway” from 1994 it didn’t mean that much to me. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I did start watching the last four (Scoop, Match Point, Melinda and Melinda, Anything Else), but did not manage to finish any of them. They were simply too boring for me. The tension, present in his earlier movies, were gone.
So I looked forward seeing a better piece by the aging master. At least, this time I didn’t turn it off halfway through. Not that I wasn’t tempted: I was bored again. But besides the eye candy of the beautiful people the surrounding was enjoyable to watch too. What I couldn’t decide was whether Allen wanted to paint European vacation exotic and romantic or was mocking this ethnocentric, overromanticized concept. On one hand her characters (Vicky and Cristina) dive into an exciting summer in a city that is considered by many the most romantic in Europe. On the other hand this very painting is a caricature, almost like the Las Vegas version of the Eiffel tower. Gaudi’s garden are reduced to being a Disney-fied backdrop.
I get it that the movie was about complication of love stories. But for that the characters were simply not interesting and engaging enough for me. In this regard they and the end of the individual stories were predictable. Conventional girl gets seduced and even tempted by giving up traditional life, but then returns to her senses. Unconventional girl experiments, but at the end the urge to move on, or return to her past, American life gets better of herself. That’s about it from an American perspective. End of story. What Allen does not care for is the European people, the wrecks these girls leave behind. Having grown up in Europe, but living in the US for quite some time I feel sensitized to both. Cannot abandon Barcelona, where I spent a week myself in a haze of conflict and romance. I’d rather relive that than watch this movie again.