Friday, May 6, 2016

Review: Barcelona (1994)

Leaving our out-of-touch group of UHB socialites, Stillman's focus shifts inches to out-of-touch American citizens living in Spain. Communication breakdowns are expanded to include political and cultural differences, one that really exposes Metropolitan's climax as a symptom of the American puritan, while critical plot movement happens slowly or, sometimes, entirely offscreen. Taylor Nichols as a stressed-out neurotic doormat and Chris Eigeman as an adorable, genuine patriot embodying a microcosm of unwanted occupation hoist the story on their shoulders, and keep us invested with their petty bickering. The themes nest under a column of air.

And yet...

It's tough to pinpoint what has been lost here, however small it may be. The writing is just as sharp but the thrust is softer. Barcelona is a lot closer to a personal journal; narration comes in jarringly, at unexpected moments, regardless of our need for them, and indicates early on that this moment in time is transitory and a little meaningless. Perhaps the bigger shame is the complete jettison of the original climax, one that would have cleverly tied together the dark subplot running in the background. Fixing the low stakes of Metropolitan was inches away, and for whatever reason, is gone now. In more keeping with the diary entry aspect, the film exits quietly, where once again, the final page turns.

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