Vicky Cristina Barcelona

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (C+). Seems to me that Woody Allen has grappled with the same problem in several of his movies, including this one. The problem is, once you decide that there is no God and no afterlife, how do you find meaning in life? All of the characters in this movie who express a point of view share Allen’s atheistic materialism, and they seem to be at a loss as to how to answer this basic question. Vicky (Rebecca Hall, The Prestige) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson, The Island) are young American women set loose in Barcelona for a summer, and both come under the spell of a charismatic Spanish artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men). Complicating matters are Vicky’s engagement to a bland but perfectly nice yuppie back home in the States and Juan Antonio’s continuing involvement with his crazy ex-wife Maria Elena (played, convincingly, by Penelope Cruz, Nine). The performances are good, but given the premises of atheistic materialism it is difficult to build any tension into the story. Cristina has fully abandoned bourgeois morality, so it is hard to care how her relationship with Juan Antonio (and Maria Elena) turns out. If the only rule is follow your heart, it’s rather hard to make wrong choices. In short, Cristina is a bore. Vicky, on the other hand, provides at least a little drama, since her getting involved with Juan Antonio would require transgressing the last bourgeois convention standing, that you really ought not cheat on your spouse or probably even your fiance. But if we are merely temporary collections of molecules bouncing around in the void, why should we abide by even this seemingly minimal constraint? In a way, this movie is a perfect counterpoint to Brideshead Revisited, which I reviewed yesterday. Brideshead asks what would happen if you really believed in God and Catholicism and tried to live your life accordingly. Vicky asks what would happen if you really didn’t believe in God at all and tried to live accordingly. It’s an interesting concept — but it makes Allen’s characters less interesting people.

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8 comments on “Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  1. […] M and even for 007 himself, but a little of that kind of stuff goes a long way.  Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) was decent as the villain, but the beautiful Berenice Marlohe has like three minutes of screen […]

  2. […] the gang is heavily disguised), Coughlin takes a bank manager named Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) hostage. Although the gang later lets her go unharmed, Keesey also turns out to be from […]

  3. […] PG-13 after all.  Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) costar.  Oh, be sure to stay through all the closing credits for an amusing final […]

  4. […] Nicole Kidman.  Now Glazer is back with this creepy sci-fi movie starring Scarlett Johansson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as . . . well, it’s hard to say exactly.  My best guess is that she is an alien in human […]

  5. […] a favorite preoccupation of his—the practical consequences of atheistic materialism. (See, e.g., Vicky Cristina Barcelona.) But he does it with a reasonably light touch, and this slab of hip nihilism is sprinkled with […]

  6. […] students.) One semester he is smitten with a Cuban student, Consuela Castillo (Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), and as soon as the ink is dry on the final exams he begins his pursuit. She puts up minimal […]

  7. […] Man  (D+).  News flash!  Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) is an atheistic nihilist!  So he continually reminds us in this unpleasant updating of Crime […]

  8. […] (Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, Vicky Cristina Barcelona).  There were also a couple of people I didn’t recognize: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, […]

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