on 8 September 2002
If you don't like standard FORMULA plotting to your films you may enjoy this. I got it having just returned from the city of the title and thought it was quite engaging.
These characters are very "cerebral" and you really have to listen to get the plot details, rewinding the tape a lot... but it seems worth it in the end. It seems to be targeted at Literature students who fancy themselves a bit but it does work. Especially as an intro to The Science and Literature of Selling.
The whole is a bit like an Alan Alda ensemble acting piece with the characters giving away telling details in the small talk and a plot that develops slowly... what that plot is about is evasive..the relationship between two New England brothers and their different views on culture and what's OK? Or the Spanish intellectual view of Americanisation, the fallibilty of wanting to marry a beautiful girl on the first moment of seeing her without even speaking to her...all seem to come out.
This all happens over some months as the Salesman and his Naval Officer cousin date some smart beautiful Spanish women in Barcelona. A lot of the interesting parts are theories spouted by the main man (wordy) but worth listening to if you read ( especially as an intro to the science of selling).
I wanted beautiful scenery and although it looks OK, lots of the shots are interiors that could be anywhere and I think they missed the opportunity to make real use of the background that Barcelona has to offer.
on 6 April 2014
During the 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, two American cousins and childhood friends, who are now a businessman and a naval officer (played by Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman) get to live some time in Barcelona, where they face (but finally overcome) the political distrust of many Spaniards. Director Whit Stillman lived some time in Spain and he surely based part of the movie on his own experiences. The movie is fine skewing the unthinking Antiamericanism of Europe’s intellectual class (though Stillman is too much of a gentleman to be to biting). Sometimes the dialogue is foolish when it tries to be witty (as when the Americans try to explain to some Spaniards the greatness of Hamburgers) but mostly the screenplay is quite fine. Stillman is an interesting filmmaker if only because his preppy conservative point of view is not often showed on movies. Mira Sorvino plays one of the Spanish girls in one of her earlier roles.
on 6 May 2015
Whit Stillman's masterpiece? It's hard to say, not because of any doubts about this film but because Stillman only makes great films. The dialogue is never wilfully obscure and is never provocative for its own sake, but sparkles with intelligence, wit and alternatives. Barcelona gains a whole extra dimension (and several new elements within that) by being in and, in part, about another culture. There is even suspense, which is usually an empty ingredient in movies leaving us with nothing when it has culminated, but here happens in a wonderfully natural way. The film is wonderfully engaging and can be approached from many directions for appreciation: sociologically, politically, culturally, intellectually, sexually while still being buddy-buddy and for laughs. Certainly one of the greatest films of the '90s and one of the greats of the last 25 years.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2005
This film is a great watch for anyone who has a friend or relative who they like a lot but will never admit it to them.
It is also visually beautiful and sends out the uplifting message that people and cultures can clash and change one another in a positive way.Taylor Nicholls and Chris Eigeman give fine performances in the lead roles.