This thing called love

CHANEL SURFING - Althea Lauren Ricardo () - February 17, 2009 - 12:00am

I no longer believe that love is complicated. In fact, I think it’s the simplest thing in the world. Unfortunately, simple is not always easy — and I was reminded of this again when someone I loved told me he was off to a vacation with friends for Valentine’s Day weekend. Right, the little green monster inside me said.

Love, of course, also means allowing the person to be his happiest best. It’s supporting the beloved in his pursuit of his own highest good. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee you won’t be infested with thoughts of, “Is he on a date?” or “Is he going to find love before me?” or, even, “Am I going to be alone for all eternity?”

Happily, I’ve since snapped out of my own personal weekend drama. My remedy? Work, chores, and, thanks in part to my Oscar Catch Up Project, a dose of Woody Allen. Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which has earned several Oscar nods, explores the complex universe of romantic entanglements.

There’s Vicky (Rebecca Hall), who is committed to a good, sensible man and whose life is already planned out. There’s Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who jumps from one relationship to another and doesn’t know what she wants. The two best friends decide to spend a couple of months in Barcelona, where they stay with family friend Judy (Patricia Clarkson), who’s merely enduring married life with another good, sensible man, Mark (Kevin Dunn). In one of their nights out, Vicky and Cristina meet an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who offers to take them on a weekend trip and give both of them, hopefully, sexual pleasure.

In a twist of events, it’s the straight-laced Vicky—partly driven by a personal passion she hasn’t fully explored nor expressed yet—who ends up doing something totally out of character. After that hiccup, however, Cristina still ends up moving in with Juan Antonio and discovering a different side of her when Juan Antonio’s insanely passionate ex-wife Maria Elena, also an artist, moves in with them. 

There’s a lot of art and artists in this film—it is Barcelona, after all, the world of Gaudi—and there’s a lot of Woody Allen-type exchanges. For that alone, the film is already a treat. Its strongest pull, for me, is the passion that escapes most of the characters at some point, and devours them at some others. How they decide to pursue or let go of this is what shapes their lives.

Vicky enters into a “safe” marriage with her good and sensible man. Cristina, meanwhile, explores a different type of relationship that brings out a talent (and sexuality) she wasn’t even sure she had. As for Juan Antonio and Maria Elena, they are the quintessential “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” exes.

At the end of the film, nobody gets any of the resolution they’re all after. There are no happy endings; just a really interesting, fascinating disturbance of a summer vacation that still left them to pick up where they left off, albeit with a different perspective.

Some love stories, especially the ones that don’t last, have that effect on us, I believe. You cross paths with a certain someone; get to know a side of you that certain someone brings out; feel feelings, good and bad, you didn’t even know were possible; and then it’s all goodbye and thank you for the memories and thank you for teaching me how not to do things right.

And that better version of ourselves, who is only clear about what we don’t want, like Cristina, has no choice but to keep on looking.

Simple, but not easy.

Email your comments to or text them to (63)917-9164421. You can also visit my personal blog at http://althearicardo.

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