When I think about Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the first thing that comes to mind is the character Maria Elena and the way she speaks and acts — and it makes me smile. Maria Elena, played by Penelope Cruz, stays with you long after the movie’s over. Though we meet her close to the movie’s half-way mark, she still manages to make an impact. Cruz is excellent as the super-talented, yet extremely fragile Maria Elena and I’m guessing that’s why they gave her an Oscar.
VCB is about two friends, Vicky and Cristina, who make a summer trip to Barcelona. Vicky is the woman who knows what she wants — she’s engaged, she’s in graduate school — and seems the more conventional of the two. Cristina is a dilettante and sort of a free spirit. They meet a painter, Juan Antonio, who then takes them on a trip. When Juan Antonio’s ex-wife, Maria Elena, things get really complicated and even more interesting.
When you recall the movie later, you realize that VCB is about challenging the assumptions that we have about love and romantic relationships and about how we think that it should be this way or that. VCB is funny but it’s also insightful and quirky, which is I guess a hallmark of Woody Allen movies. (I’ve watched only a couple, so I don’t know if I am qualified to make such a judgement.)
However you analyze the movie, the main thing is that it’s funny and enjoyable to watch. Those are good enough reasons to watch any movie.