Released in 2008, Vicky Cristina Barcelona was directed by Woody Allen, and stars Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Vicky (Rebecca Hall, The Town) and Cristina (Johannsson) spend a summer in Barcelona. While Vicky is engaged, has a fairly traditional vision of love that requires commitment and disregards passion, Cristina is more sexually adventurous and keeps looking for “something different”, which is turned into a theme in the movie. One night they meet Juan Antonio, an enigmatic painter attracted to both of them and still in love with his unstable ex-wife Maria-Elena (Cruz).
This key scene gives a sense of the movie and atmosphere:
The movie deals with the definition of love, everyone has different definitions and expectations: to Vicky it is commitment, to Cristina it is “something else”, to Juan Antonio it is pleasure, to Maria-Elena it is a perfect mix of different elements, like a recipe. I tend to agree more with that last definition – in the end, Cristina, as is repeated many times in the movie, “is certain, only, of what she doesn’t want”. What works, what doesn’t? Is love a lifetime with someone, or a brief moment? Many questions that have many different answers.
Juan Antonio: Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic.
Narrator: Cristina, on the other hand, expected something very different out of love. She had reluctantly accepted suffering as an inevitable component of deep passion, and was resigned to putting her feelings at risk. If you asked her what it was she was gambling her emotions on to win, she would not have been able to say. She knew what she didn't want, however, and that was exactly what Vicky valued above all else.