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Film / Barcelona

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Barcelona is a 1994 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Whit Stillman. His best-known film, it's the second installment in what Stillman has dubbed his "Doomed Bourgeois in Love Trilogy", preceded by Metropolitan and followed by The Last Days of Disco.

In "the last decade of the Cold War", Ted Boynton (Taylor Nichols) is an American businessman working in Spain. He's successful, but he's suffering through a troubled love life and an identity crisis. His cousin Fred Boynton (Chris Eigeman), a naval officer, shows up in town, working as an advance man for the arrival of an American fleet. Together they tour the clubs and restaurants of Barcelona, have heated discussions about women and politics, meet lots of women, and even find themselves wrapped up in politics.


  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Stillman's debut Metropolitan cost $200,000. With the backing of Castle Rock Entertainment, this film had a comparatively-lavish $3 million budget. Compared to its predecessor, it has lots more exterior and daylight scenes, and even tosses in some flashbacks.
  • Bland-Name Product: Ted thinks he's going to a concert by Jazz legend Lionel Hampton, but it turns out to be a mediocre (fictional) band named Vinyl Hampton.
  • Book and Switch: Probably the first time that The Bible has been used as the material being hidden. Not wanting anyone to know about his newfound interest in religion, Ted hides a Bible inside a copy of The Economist.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the film, Fred talks about how he changed the direction of the razor when he shaves, based on a TV commercial for a razor. Toward the end, someone else suggests that he's shaving in the wrong direction.
    • A few scenes after the Lionel/Vinyl Hampton mixup mentioned in Bland Name Product, an album by Vinyl Hampton gets played at a party.
  • Cassandra Truth: Fred thinks he's being followed, but when he tells Ted, Ted just dismisses it as paranoia.Turns out Fred really was being followed by anti-American terrorists, who later try to murder him.
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: A Spanish-language cover of "Twilight Time" by The Platters ("Hora del Crepusculo", performed by the Argentine group Los Cinco Latinos) is a recurring song throughout the film.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Whenever any of the Spanish characters tell Ted and Fred anything about America, it's always very ill-informed, inaccurate and biased.
  • Mildly Military: Fred is in Spain for vague reasons and seemingly has no real responsibilities. Unfortunately, this allows rumors that he's with the CIA to circulate.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Averted with blonde and light-skinned Mira Sorvino and Tushka Bergen, among others, cast as Spanish natives. Truth in Television in that their coloring wouldn't be at all out of place in Northern Spain, which Barcelona is.
  • Present-Day Past: The story takes place in 1982, but the costume, hair, and make up departments make no attempt to conceal their early 90s production date.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ted and Fred are cousins, but very much have this relationship.
  • Yuppie: Ted fits the basic description to a T, except the "urban" part of the equation is in Europe.