Barcelona is about lust, not love

Katie Christiansen

In a time when saccharine fluff such as the forthcoming cinematic masterpiece ‘High School Musical 3’ has cornered the market on fun, Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ comes as a breath of fresh adult air in a world focused on youth.

Allen’s Spain-set anti-love story acts as an ode to today’s marriage challenging climate while exploring the age-old overwrought concept of ‘I love you, but I’m not in love with you.’ ‘Vikki Cristina Barcelona’ is a story that toys with the concept of a relationship between three lustful adults against the tedium of a tamer twosome.

Scarlett Johansson plays the tempestuous and soul-searching Cristina, a woman propelled by lust and european sensibilities that becomes swept up in a passionate and sometimes violent relationship between an intriguing artist and his ex-wife. Perfectly cast in the lusty role, Johansson looks like sex on a stick while still aptly portraying the vulnerability of such a confused, but not unhappy, character.

In juxtaposition to Johansson’s Cristina, is her best friend, travel partner, and representation of all things American, Vicky, played to uptight perfection by British actress Rebecca Hall.

Though both women fall for Javier Bardem’s unflinchingly honest painter Juan Antonio, Vicky’s engagement to New York sycophant Doug precludes her from fully realizing her romantic aspirations.’
But even the excitement of the unacknowledged romantic triangle between the aforementioned threesome pales in comparison to the sheer fire that emanates from Juan Antonio’s ex-wife, Maria Elena, aptly casted by Penelope Cruz.’

Cruz has never been properly appreciated by American audiences, but her electric performance as the passionate and stormy Maria Elena may just change all that. Cruz ignites every scene she is in like a more wild and sultry Sophia Loren.

The story that unfolds and different romantic pairings that ensue provide no grey area in this lust story. The message is clear: commitment is bad, and an entirely American notion, having threesomes with Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz is good. Maybe the physicality between Cruz and Johansson is not so crude and is, amazingly, not exploited, but rather arises organically within the story.

Allen once again proves to the world that as of late he does his best work outside the confines of New York City.’

This latest cinematic outing serves as a study of the heart and ode to college student’s romantic ideals of European jaunts. But rather than put on a song and dance number about being ‘all in this together’ or some such nonsense like a certain syrupy -Disney juggernaut, this grown-up love story doesn’t provide you with any answers.