This is a paper I wrote (and turned in) for college. I think I got an A-, but I can’t remember. It seemed like a safe enough place to start for a blog. It’s a movie review of Vicky Christina Barcelona, which I saw a long time (10 months) ago.
What most film critics seem to not realize is that all films, well, most films are great, even awesome. Film critics are eager to take a film and judge it against all other movies by giving it a grade or rating based on a system that applies to all genres and really, all other moving pictures that were ever created. This doesn’t seem fair. I’d like to attest that even a film such as Gigli, a film ridiculed for its poor acting and absurd plot, is good. If I’m looking for a movie with yet another amazing performance from Christopher Walken for purely ironic reasons, then this is the one. If I were rating this movie against all other bad movies, I might give it five stars, or an A plus. In this context it’s good. A similarly bad movie might be Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle. I know that some man out there appreciates this film for its supply of action and hot women. This man might give the movie five stars. Yet, critics unanimously agree it’s a piece of crap. And what makes them more qualified to watch this movie than the stereotypical dumb male I referenced? He spends money on films too, and partakes in the viewing experience. Therefore in my estimation he counts. What makes a movie good is a weird designation to make. I personally place the critically acclaimed The Graduate on the same level as Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle since I enjoyed them equally (in different ways). And so I don’t really see why or how it’s useful to critique a movie in some vague context that is something like, “well, compared to cinema on the whole…”
I recently saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona, written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem, amongst other hotties. I really liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that I am tempted to go so far as to say, “it was wonderful! A plus! Five stars! Everyone should see this!” But the truth is not everyone should see this, because the same man who really enjoyed Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle would probably not enjoy Vicky Cristina Barcelona a whole bunch, necessarily. Not enough action. Thus, I have determined that is important to place the wonderfulness of this film in some sort of context. Being that themes of love are present in the film, I would be willing to categorize it as a “date” movie. Though, since there is no universal definition of a “date” movie, I personally would consider an ideal date movie as one that is appealing to both demographics of men and women in between the ages of twenty and forth-something, which includes a few romantic moments so that the couple has an excuse to be a little romantic themselves.
The challenge with date movies seems to be this: movies are heavily targeted, usually, towards very specific demographics. The demographic of “men and women of most ages” is basically asking for the movie to appeal to everyone. This doesn’t happen often. Not to mention that a date movie should also include moments of romance, which immediately makes it a little more appealing to women. And all of this, of course, is based on the most rudimentary stereotypes of what men and women like in films.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona tells the story of two women who are friends who have very different opinions on love. One woman, Vicky, played by the up and coming Rebecca Hall, prefers commitment and stability, and so chooses a fiancé based primarily on his mutual appreciation of these values. The other, Cristina, played by Allen’s current muse, Scarlett Johansson, does not know what she is looking for in love, but knows that she won’t settle and give up until she finds it. They take a trip to Barcelona together for different reasons. A sexy Spanish man, Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem, offers to take them to his vacation home in Oviedo for a weekend of fun and romance. They hesitate. Eventually they accept, and this is where the movie starts.
Off the bat this synopsis makes the film seem like something of a chick flick, being that it involves women and their opinions on romance. However, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is not a chick flick. It’s a date movie. And this is why it’s a date movie: it includes hot women, making out with each other, who allude to threesomes. Most men seem to appreciate these qualities. One guy who saw the film said, “Lesbians are hot because we like women, and then with lesbians then there are more women at once, so it’s good.” Not only is this an astute observation, but it is also worth mentioning that this film did come recommended to me. And not by a fellow female or a gay man in touch with his feelings, but in fact by two straight men. The conclusion is clear then, I hope. Dudes like watching this movie too.
I believe this can be accounted for by the fact that Allen delicately took a topic that had high potential for being a sensual and explicit (that topic being a hot Spanish man who sleeps with a lot of women) and was completely honest about it. The women are all in love with him, but they have their reasons. The women are honest with each other about their feelings. Two of them even fall in love with each other to some extent. Meanwhile, none of the characters are too afraid of their sexuality, with the possible exception of Vicky, but even she opens up and experiments. The point being, the film felt like an honest, realistic depiction of love and sex and romance and all of those themes that tend to dominate the human psyche. This is why I consider the movie to be great, in general. But this is also why it is an especially good date movie. The relationships of the characters are portrayed so passionately and boldly that somehow their feelings and experiences can in some ways be transferred directly to the audience. And since the audience can start relating, this can be an especially good thing for a date.
Overall Allen produced a witty, clever, interesting film that is continually providing insights and truisms. This doesn’t happen often with a film. Not only that, but I am confident that both men and women between the ages of twenty and forty-something could probably find some aspect of this film that they enjoy. Because of its excellent writing, great direction, and superb performances I suspect that this movie might in many ways serve as the sort of prototype that all other date movies should aspire to. It was really quite well done, and I believe this is because it was so sincere about what it wanted to say about love and sex. The film wanted to say that there is no right or wrong way to go about it, that it can happen at unexpected times or inconvenient times, that sometimes love does not need be exclusive but can be shared within a group, or that perhaps it is mysterious and complex but still vitally important and special. This sort of message is in many ways universal, and the film portrayed it with great success. I’d recommend it to (almost) anyone, but especially to anyone who doesn’t know what to take their date to go see. Definitely Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Especially definitely Vicky Cristina Barcelona rather than something else like Body of Lies. Plus, they drink a lot of wine in the movie. So if you bring wine to your movie date and drink it while watching then that’s completely an added bonus. See Vicky Cristina Barcelona.