Monday, July 16, 2007

Barcelona (1994, Whit Stillman)

"An American man who works in sales in Barcelona gets a surprise visit from his cousin who is on leave from the navy. Together they go around Barcelona talking about life,politics, and women."

I had always heard a good amount of hype surrounding Whit Stillman. Anyone who has seen his "trilogy" holds it in high regard and anyone who has been exposed to him seem to be anticipating his new film badly. Although I have only seen 2/3 of the trilogy I can now see and understand the love towards the mans films. A friend of mine described him as the "Terence Malick of comedy" and that description fits well.

Barcelona uses almost the same formula as Metropolitan did. Which is that we basically see a handful of character talk about a handful of subjects for the whole running time. It really isn't as boring or as annoying as it sounds and it is often hilarious but once again the comedy is very subtle and often dark. The thing though that separates this film from Metropolitan, at least to me, is that it is clearly evident that Stillman had more of a budget on this film and because of this was able to gain more confidence in his visuals and storytelling. It's a cliched term but I do like this film better because it is more mature than Metropolitan.

The other reason I loved Barcelona was also because of the heavy focus on just two characters. The relationship between the cousins is a fun and interesting one to watch as their friendship begins to develop after many years of hatred between them. The conversation exchanges between them are once again some top notch writing that is always witty but never pretentious.

The only thing else that I can say about the film is how great Chris Eigeman is in it. This guy should have been a bigger star than he is now. The man is a scene stealer and seems to be Whit Stillman's perfect match for an actor. He seems to have been born to deliver Stillmans style of dialogue and every time he opens his mouth in both films pure comedy gold comes out.

Barcelona is just a solid witty film all around that manages to have some memorable characters and brilliant writing to go along with it, which is all I could ask for in a comedy film.

- A-

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