Film: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
"The ultimate message for the film seems to be that marriage is a prison and sex with Javier Bardem is the solution to your problems (and I already knew that)." Vicky Christina Barcelona
—Miles Antwiler on Vicky Cristina Barcelona
is a 2008 movie by Woody Allen
, centered around the experiences of two young women in Barcelona. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson
) travel to Barcelona for the summer so that Vicky can work on her dissertation on the culture of Catalonia. They are hosted by friends of Vicky's family, Mark and Judy. One day, at an art gallery, Cristina notices a man and asks Judy about him. She tells them he is Juan Antonio, a painter rumored to have had a stormy, and possibly violent, relationship with his ex-wife María Elena (Penélope Cruz
) which ended in divorce. Later that night, the two happen to have dinner at the same restaurant as Juan Antonio, who walks over to them, introduces himself, and invites them to spend the weekend with him in the small town of Oviedo. Vicky is repulsed by his boldness, but Cristina is intrigued, so they go. This decision results in experiences that cause both of them to re-examine their own lives and commitments.
It was well reviewed and many critics declared it a return to form for Allen, who, after making a series of classic romantic comedies earlier in his career, had not had much critical success in that genre in recent years. Notable for lots of Scenery Porn
of the beautiful Catalan countryside and having a quite provocative storyline touching on controversial and unfamiliar subjects such as Polyamory
as well as familiar ones like passion and commitment. Penelope Cruz won the Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actress.
This movie provides examples of:
- Ax-Crazy: María Elena, though she seems to have enough restraint to stop short of (lethal) violence.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Juan Antonio and Vicky.
- Betty and Veronica: Gender flipped with Vicky being torn between Doug (Betty) and Juan Antonio (Veronica).
- To a lesser extent, Cristina is a Veronica while Vicky is a Betty, although the two of them never compete for Juan Antonio at the same time
- Bi the Way: Cristina, although she explicitly rejects the label of bisexual
- Billing Displacement: Penelope Cruz plays a supporting character with significantly less screen time than the three leads, but received equal billing. Meanwhile one third of the film's title (Rebecca Hall's Vicky) is not on the poster and her actress listed below Bardem, Cruz and Johansson.
- Brainy Brunette: Vicky.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: María Elena is this at first to Cristina, but eventually they settle into a threesome with Juan Antonio
- Color Wash: Everything in this movie looks orange.
- Commitment Issues: A central focus of the film is the characters' issues with this.
- Cut Himself Shaving: Vicky tells her husband that she is going to lunch with her professor, when she is actually going to Juan Antonio's house. While she's there, María Elena shows up with a gun and ends up shooting Vicky in the hand. She tells her husband that her "professor" was showing her the gun when it accidentally went off.
- Dirty Old Man: Juan Antonio's elderly father is just as fond of the ladies as he is, though this isn't played as much for Squick as it usually is.
- Disposable Fiancé: Doug. Subverted however in that Vicky does end up marrying him in the end.
- Double Standard: If the characters' genders were reversed, the main characters' commitment issues, infidelities, and deceptions wouldn't be so sympathetic. Another example: Vicky tells Juan Antonio that he might have deserved it when his ex-wife stabbed him. It's hard to imagine a man the audience is supposed to sympathize with getting away with saying that to a woman who'd just been stabbed by her crazy ex-husband.
- Although in the context of the story, all Vicky had heard at that point was that Juan Antonio had been married to a woman and that it had ended with violence, which she assumes meant that he had beaten her. This is of course an in-universe example of a Double Standard, however
- Ethical Slut: Juan Antonio.
- Fake American: English actress Rebecca Hall as the American Vicky.
- Fauxlosophic Narration: Throughout the film, Vicky and Cristina contemplate the meaning of love many, many times to both each other and to almost every other character they converse with. They never come to any conclusions. See Shaggy Dog Story below.
- Good Bad Girl: Cristina
- The Hedonist: Juan Antonio, who seems to do nothing but eat gourmet food, hang out in beautiful locations, and sleep with gorgeous women. Somewhat deconstructed however in that his life still has plenty of problems and emotional drama, some of it caused by his lifestyle.
- Hot-Blooded: María Elena
- Informed Ability: Cristina is supposed to be a gifted photographer, but none of the photos of hers which the audience sees are particularly striking or memorable.
- Karma Houdini: Vicky, who gets away with cheating on Doug, and María Elena, who nearly kills someone in one of her jealous rages without any sort of repercussions.
- Latin Lover: Juan Antonio and María Elena.
- Polyamory: Juan Antonio, Cristina, and María Elena try this for awhile, but it doesn't work out in the end, because despite her lack of inhibitions Cristina decides it isn't for her.
- Protagonist Title
- Reality Has No Subtitles: Half of the movie is this, i.e. whenever Cristina and/or Vicky are around the Spanish who don't speak English.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cristina, who is passionate, impulsive, and unrestrained in following her romantic and sexual impulses, is the red oni. Vicky, whose approach to love is grounded and pragmatic, is the blue one.
- Red Right Hand: María Elena tells Juan Antonio that she doesn't trust Cristina because her eyes are of different colors.
- Scenery Porn / Shoot the Money: Oh yes. The Catalan countryside is as big a presence as any of the characters.
- Shaggy Dog Story: At the end of the movie, Juan Antonio and María Elena are back in their tempestuous and volatile relationship, and Vicky and Cristina return to America exactly as they left it. The narrator even explicitly states that neither changed as an individual as a result of the whole adventure.
- Spicy Latina: María Elena, again.
- Translation By Volume: Vicky tries to speak loudly and slowly in as she's initially not very good at speaking Spanish or Catala.
- The Unfair Sex: See Double Standard, above.
- Yandere: Who else? - María Elena.
- Your Cheating Heart: Vicky.