Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vicki Christina Barcelona

I saw the movie Vicki Christina Barcelona the other day. I don’t have a lot to say about it. Its implications for any number of topics of interest to this blog – game, sex, marriage – were pretty obvious, and pretty depressing, although its treatment of these topics was more double-edged than I had any reason to expect from Woody Allen. But I do want to point out something relevant to the film’s plausibility, because I couldn't help noticing that the movie was missing something pretty conspicuous:


Actually, it lacked much in the way of people in general. I remember a review that Ross Douthat wrote of an earlier Woody Allen film in which he pointed out that Woody’s characters “inhabited a world of touristy-type places miraculously scrubbed free of tourists.” Likewise, in Vicki, the principals lead their operatic sex lives amidst beautiful and depopulated Spanish villages and countryside, free of anyone with any claim on their behavior, especially children. Further, they are also free of any other concerns, like earning a living or paying a mortgage.

I’m pretty sure that Woody’s ability to make the principals’ behavior the least bit compelling requires just this kind of make-believe world. The Christian rules on sex -- the Ten Commandments in general, actually -- are informed by a deep understanding of the world as our original sin has made it: a world full of strife against nature and want; a world of enemies both foreign and domestic; a world in which our collective security requires us to suppress our own passions for the common good. In the world as it is, life is a team sport, and the proper functioning of the team can be undermined by so much of what Woody would pass off as mere preference or, at worst, eccentricity.

* Which, considering Woody’s own, um, preferences, is probably a good thing.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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