Vicky Cristina Barcelona

The latest Woody Allen contrasts cautious love with carefree passion, and challenges your assumption of which path leads to more regret. Vicky & Cristina are opposing figures: the former too uptight to escape her mediocre fiance and banal, yacht-inducing fate; the latter stuck in a Sisyphean cycle of achieving intense love only to see it fade away. They’re both extremes, setup to demonstrate the folly of the other; the optimal path is, as always, somewhere in between.

Vicky & Cristina, played by Rebecca Hall & Scarlett Johansson, were unremarkable in their one-dimensional roles. Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz acted circles around them, playing the casanova and the provocateur. Passion or commitment can be a question of spiritual life or death, but here it is treated with such levity, with playful dialogue, a low-stakes plot, and the beautiful Spanish scenery and soundtrack.

Having said that, the movie ends not happily, with heavy unfulfillment staining the last scene. A poignant final frame filled with two pensive faces, meant to linger in your thoughts on love for minutes, days, or years to come.

My optimal path has always inclined towards pursuit of passion. I’d rather throw caution to the wind and taste the flavors of life than waste away, subsisting on stale, lukewarm relationship. Life is too precious for love with no sizzle. So get it while it’s hot folks, because at the end of this meal, you die.

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