I know this movie has been out for a good, long, while–I could tell by the scratches on the print that I saw that it was already played at some other theater. But here, behind the Redwood Curtain where I reside, it just came out last weekend.
So you know the story already by now, right? Vicky and Christina are in Barcelona and other Spanish cities with Javier Bardem.
I don’t know how to talk about this movie without giving things away. It’s a very cyclical film–the characters end where things began: listless and searching or filled with contempt for their lives.
But in between is a whirlwind of emotions that all seemed to have been fulfilled by Bardem’s character. And all those emotions get fucked up when crazy Penelope Cruz shows up after trying to kill herself. She’s always at Bardem’s throat and it’s only when she and Bardem are living with Scarlett Johannssen (Christina) that they can actually get along. For a good portion of the film, the three have a little relationship together that is strange and erotic and, well, Woody Allen.
Vicky, on the other hand, slept with him only once and, immediately, was thrown off from her perfect life she had planned. She’s married a guy who is, more than anything, amiable and career-driven. But he’s also a bit of a dick. You know the archetype: business boy who talks her ear off about inane shit, probably was in a frat, etcetera. Think of the guy that Rachel McAdams’s character was engaged to in Wedding Crashers, but written better.
So, okay. You know what’s going on. What I really want to discuss is Woody Allen’s direction and writing. What really blows my mind is that he has the ability to write something that could be a funny film with a seriousness one wouldn’t expect from him if they had only seen, say, Annie Hall or any of his funnier movies.
He directs the film with a sense of sureness, he knows exactly what he wants and he knows exactly how to extract it from the actors. Bardem did such a good job that it was only in the first portion of his performance was I thinking of him in No Country for Old Men. Not just him, but all the characters, draw you into their fucked up little lives for the entirety of the film.
I sincerely think that Allen has come into another renaissance as a director. His recent films have revived his career, and I think it’s because he’s turned away from comedy. It seemed like, around the time of Small Time Crooks or the Curse of the Jade Scorpion, he had lost his comedic touch because he’d already released a million films by that time. So, now, he’s tapped into the creatively dramatic portion of his brain.
Which makes me hope that he doesn’t stop making films–that he falls over dead on set.