If you’re expecting some sort of resolution or answers to the problems Woody Allen gives his characters, don’t hold your breath.
Vicky and Cristina are two Americans headed to Barcelona for a two month vacation. Impulsive, romantic Cristina and level-headed pragmatist Vicky are hosted by some distant family members cooped up in town. Vicky has a nice if rote life in front of her: she’s close to finishing a masters degree, engaged to be married to a boring yuppie and looking at that whole boring upper-middle class lifestyle. Cristina is searching for something different and new but can’t articulate what she does want, only what she doesn’t.
The two run into Juan Antonio, a brooding yet charming local painter who offers to take them to a remote area. After much resistance from Vicky and almost none from Cristina, the two head out with Juan Antonio, beginning a strange entanglements of romance and love. Juan Antonio is saddled with a volatile and slightly deranged ex-wife by the name of Maria Elena. As both Vicky and Cristina sleep with Juan Antonio, they come to have very different experiences.
Spoiler: Neither of them learns anything. Both question the nature of their lives, their hopes, their ideas about love and life, but it winds up having no greater effect on their lives. Cristina at one point even shacks up with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena, searching for something different but finds nothing to satisfy her. Vicky aggressively obsesses over the fact that her life with boring Doug may not be everything she ever hoped and dreamed of, only to face that she cannot stomach the rollercoaster life that Juan Antonio and Maria Elena lead.
We end the movie as we began: Juan Antonio has nearly been killed by Maria Elena, Vicky is on the same path she always has set herself on, and Cristina is still the carefree searcher. In many ways, Allen’s movie seems to contemplate the idea that life is pointless; that we make the same mistakes over and over again, that we never find the answers that make sense (or maybe we don’t ask the right questions). It’s beautiful and slightly sad, set to the sounds of Spanish guitars. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a wonderful film that gives you a lot of mental cud to chew.