Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Our Spoons Came from Woolworths

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths was a very fine book.

"Sophia is 21 years old, carries a newt - Great Warty - around in her pocket and marries - in haste - a young artist called Charles. Swept into the bohemian London of the 30s, she is ill-equipped to cope. She takes up with an aging art critic and learns to repent - at leisure."

The style was reminiscent of the one used in Diary of a Provincial Lady (the narrator writes down very stoically and really does nothing more than describe, it is this constant distance from the hilarious and tragic that makes it so compelling) but the comparison stops here. Even in tragedy it was funny. It's an eccentric book and lives up to expectations : the blurb on the cover compared it to "a perpetual Mad Hatter's tea-party". It focuses on Sophia who at the beginning of the book is married to Charles and leads a Bohemian life in London. Charles is an artist who doesn't sell much and she poses for painters to earn some money. They earn just enough money to put bread on the table. The main character, Sophia, is a smart, deeply moving woman whom I really felt for throughout. The plot is unusual at times (infidelity, illegitimate children, the book was published in 1950) and yet really unoriginal. In the end, it is the voice and the eccentricity of it all which made it well worth my time.

Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz)

Perhaps I'm lucky because I only seem to watch very good Woody Allen movies. So far, I've seen Match Point, Scoop and yesterday I went to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona to celebrate the December holidays. You probably already know the plot : Vicky and Cristina, two American students, travel to Barcelona and meet Juan Antonio, a man who's left his turbulent marriage to Maria Elena but recently. Serious Vicky falls for Juan Antonio and reconsiders her impending marriage, carefree Cristina falls for Juan Antonio and agrees to live with him and Maria Elena when Maria threatens to commit suicide. All three fall in love with each other but Cristina is never satisfied and breaks the idyllic bubble they had built.
I already want to see it again. It was an irresistible movie, one that spoke to me like nothing has spoken to me in a while. The actors are all excellent and the characters who all want to enjoy and experience what's best in life, are truly convincing. Passion, love, art, literature, good food, music, beautiful sightings. I don't know how anyone can watch this movie without wanting to book a trip to Spain on the spot. I really identified with both Vicky and Cristina for some reason, even though I don't lead nearly such an interesting life.

[Cristina] was the lover of an exciting man, an artist whose work she believed in. She was already thinking of herself as a kind of expatriate, not smothered by what she believed to be American's puritanical and materialistic culture she had little patience for. She saw herself as more of a European soul in tune with thinkers and artists she felt expressed her tragic, romantic freethinking view of life.

Cristina : I see no reason to label everything, I'm just ... me.

Like Les Chansons d'Amour, one of my favourite movies of all time directed by Christophe Honoré (and starring the breathtaking Louis Garrel who's the lover of my dreams) released in 2007, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the kind of movie you desperately want to step into because it celebrates life and youth in a sensible, philosophical way. Bitter-sweet tale about the constant insatisfaction of human beings, about our constant search for passion in everything, everyone.

Look for happiness wherever you can find it