Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"Life is short, life is dull, life is full of pain. This is a chance for something different. "—Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem)
Last Saturday, I did something that I have never done before. I went to see a movie at the theatre all by myself (gasp!) I'd been dying to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and most of my regular movie buddies had either already seen it, didn't want to see it, or our schedules just didn't seem to be lining up. So when I found myself with an afternoon free, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.
I'm thankful that I took it because I absolutely LOVED the movie.
It's narrated in a post-modern storybook sort of way with all the twists and turns of any complex Woody Allen film. I am a big Woody Allen fan because of the intelligence he brings to his films, and because they inevitably explore, with humour and idiosyncratic introspection, the limits of the human condition. There's also the fact that I tend to be able to relate to his characters, you know, being that I am completely self-aware, complicated and totally neurotic.
In this particular case, I was quite blown away by just how much I could relate to Scarlett Johansson's character, Cristina. She has blond hair and loves movement and experience. She is restless and unfulfilled. She yearns to be an artist, maybe a filmmaker. She's already directed a short film in New York, but she hates the way it turned out. She feels a deep connection with art but isn't quite sure if she's gifted. She’s an insecure woman who is looking for love in all the wrong places, but remains a hopeless romantic. She is open to possibilities and growth, unsure of every step she takes, but seems to know that it will lead to something that could be better. Cristina is not sure what she wants, only what she doesn't.
The crux of my fascination with this film, however, was to watch the two female central characters of the title wrestle with what it means to be happy, each coming at it from wildly divergent perspectives.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona has a beautiful romantic glow about it. It is most definitely a must-see for anyone who ponders the human condition and enjoys interesting stories that force your brain to contemplate life. This film led me to reflect about the kinds of love that I have in my life, the kinds of love I've pined for, what I've had and lost and what my heart craves.
Perhaps the point is that there is no such thing as perfect love. This is precisely why I'm trying so hard to live in the moment, to take the reality of it for what it is, enjoy the hell out of it, and move on when it no longer works. I can't help thinking that this way, at least I will understand the beauty of the moment, of the people who populate it, and the backdrop that sets that moment; because, from what I can tell, that's where the real honesty lies.
Photos: MGM/The Weinstein Company