10 July 2009

Vicky Christina Barcelona: one cliche too many

When the credits started rolling, I was surprised that this was a Woody Allen movie. Till now, I hadn’t ever equated predictability and clichés with Allen’s movies, and here was this movie brimming with every romantic cliché you could possibly think of.

Cliché no. 1: Two women – one pragmatic, the other free thinking – go to Barcelona for different reasons but end up falling for the same guy: an edible-looking Spanish artist (If you’ve already had enough, read no further. Believe me, this is just the beginning of cliché hell.) Allen can have his triangles or quadrangles or any geometric fantasy, but what grates is the part about the American women – tourists – falling for a Spanish artist.

Cliché no. 2: The pragmatic of the two – Rebecca Hall – is already engaged but sees in Javier Bardem a life she could have if she chose to. So, is it going to be her conventional (read: boring), American fiancée who represents stability, or is going to be the red-blooded Spaniard who will take her up paths of unknown pleasures? Agh, God, this is the dumbest, really. Women often know how to get the best of both worlds, but such women simply don’t feature in movies or books, it seems.

Cliché no. 3: The names of the Spanish characters are ultra-cliché, especially that of Juan Antonio.

Cliché no. 4: Bardem and his ex-wife, Penelope Cruz, are the wild, bohemian spirits and shock the prim, civilized Americans.

Cliché no. 5: It all happens in a faraway place from home – Spain. So, you see, we get hornier abroad or is it just the Barcelona air? And I had this sneaking suspicion when I was watching the movie. The Barcelona in the movie – which competes to be another character - is what tourists want to see it as. In the Barcelona that Marta Bausells Hernanz knows, you can’t walk into a restaurant at 12 in the night and get a table just like that.

Allen’s Barcelona is beautiful, of course. But a little too much out of a travel brochure.

Everyone else in the movie is mouth-watering, too. But just eye-candy quotient cannot make a movie win, though it can definitely save it from total oblivion.

I liked the title song and, strangely enough, the quaint and rather unnecessary narrative.

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