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Barcelona (1994)
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Product Description

Writer and director Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco) offers up this poignant and cutting romantic 1990 comedy set in the magical southern Spanish metropolis, a city in the midst of cultural and political upheaval. Taylor Nichols (Metropolitan) plays an American living in the Catalonian capital working for a stateside company. He is visited by his unctuous cousin (Chris Eigeman), a naval attach¨¦ who's in Barcelona to spin a little public relations for the impending arrival of the U.S. fleet amid some virulent left-wing, anti-American attitude. The two cousins are constantly at odds, arguing about everything from politics to women to their true feelings for one another and their constant self-examination. Largely the two men spend their time in search of romance abroad, as they humorously overanalyze the women they meet and what they want from a relationship, until fate takes a shocking turn and both men are forced to reevaluate who they are and what they want out of life. Barcelona features a turn from Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite) as a Spanish national working as a hostess, free with her sexuality and smitten with Eigeman. Stillman's writing is as crisp and observant as his striking visual take on the city and its people, both natives and expatriates. Barcelona is a terrific comedy of attitudes and culture clashes that manages to be offbeat, sardonic, and unexpectedly wise. --Robert Lane

Customer Reviews:

  • Barcelona and the Life of a Salesman
    Maybe sales can be a noble pursuit... maybe burgers are pretty good eats... and maybe american culture has within its fibre the white blood cells necessary to overcome family hardship, personal isolation and the disease of consumerism ... or maybe you'ld just like to see a vaunt-courier turned one-eyed seaman in a flash of bang! Well, if so, watch this movie, it makes you all cuddly inside--i watch it at least once a year. And remember, if you look at human society like an ant farm... europeans hate ants!...more info
  • will takes a page from woody allen's play book
    if you're expecting a movie with a alot of action....skip this, but if you like well-developed characters and dialogue that is funny and whip-smart, this is your film...will is the kind of conservative that could actually make me like like republicans...i enjoyed ted's goody goody character, though sometimes, he wasn't as goody two shoe as he appeared....fred was a navy guy as if owen wilson would've played him, with a laid-back surfer dude cool...the film itself makes for a great advertisement for the city...the locations are stunning...mira sorvino is in it...and she's not should watch this more than once just to really appreciate the things being said here......more info
  • one of the worst movies ever seen
    totallly clueless and unfocused. aimless and purposeless script. wasted lot of talented actors. going-nowhere directing. bar-hoppings, disco dancings, bedrooms with boring naked backs, endless blahblahblah small talks. .. , trying very hard to be a decent movie is that nato navy officer, does not look like an navy officer a bit but an annoying, whinning, eye-sore, always talking, never grown up, too much opinioned nuisance. the person who played this role is a total failure. don't think this a comedy or whatever it should be or would be....more info
  • A view from Barcelona
    I saw this movie when it was released. As a person born and raised in Barcelona, I think it is a a very inaccurate portrayal of my city and its society. Like most commercial US films, it provides a romatized and false view of society. In some parts, the film looks like a tourist brochure of the latter Francoist years: flamenco, wine, bulls and macho men. May be this is how Mr. Stillman sees us Catalans. My impression is that "Tha Last Days of Disco" is a much better movie....more info
  • Thin plot -- Lame acting ...
    Two Americans reunite in Barcelona and pursue relationship with indigenous females. One is an expat working for a US Corporation; the other man is a Navy officer serving as an advance man for the fleet. They encounter much anti-American sentiment.

    The actors give their lines as though they were reading them. If this is a romantic comedy, I must confess I don't think I laughed once. I pulled this movie because it was compared favorably to the recent Woody Allen film, "Vicky, Christie Barcelona." I have not seen the latter film, but I'd recommend you take a "pass" at Barcelona.
    ...more info
  • Captures the experience perfectly
    As an American who's lived on and off in Spain over the years, I can say the movie captures the cultural differences exactly! Spaniards and Americans are both similar and polar opposites at the same time, and the clash makes for a hilarious introspection into who and what we really are. Spend time in Spain and you will run into each one of these characters. Truely one of my favorite movies!...more info
  • Barcelona
    A really interesting tale of Americans abroad. Two very different cousins meet up in Barcelona at the end of the Cold War in a slightly hostile environment. If you are a fan of Whit Stillman's other films, Metropolitan and Last Days of Disco, you will enjoy this chatty comdey. Great performances by Chris Eigemann and Taylor Nichols....more info
  • How wonderful and funny
    THis is a profound wonderful film set in Barcelona and following the hapless exploits of two cousins as they persue love and other interests in Europe. THe cousins couldn't be more different, one a reserved nerd obsessed with books on marketing and the other a swashbucking naval cadet proud of his country and disdainful of the foreigners. The best scene int he film is where a Spaniard says 'you americans kill to many people' and the cadet says 'no we are just better shots'. Other commentares abound as the american debates the left obsessed communists who complain about AMerica and spray paint 'OTAN is evil' on walls throughout the city. Definetly an enjoyable film for anyone who enjoyes europe but likes poking fun at how serious people take themselves....more info
  • We need films like this in times like these
    For an American expat living in Europe, Barcelona's complex sense of indignation and resignation at how Americans are viewed abroad rings true. Beautifully written, and shot like a love letter to its titular city, this excellent, intelligent film helps me find a way to laugh through the tears. I recently bought Stillman's earlier film, Metropolitan, and I found that it has held up, if anything, slightly better than Barcelona as time has passed. In both films the dialogue is marvellous, and the characters familiar. Where is Whit Stillman now, anyway? We need him. Get to work, Whit! ...more info
  • Conservatives who don't preach are to be treasured
    Whit Stillman is famous, or rather infamous, for being a filmmaker who happens to be a Republican. I almost don't believe his name. What could be more conservative than a still man?And his films are loaded with wit. Like a drag queen working a Moral Majority meeting, he presses on to make films in an environment of left-wing group-think. I guess that I should have prefaced this review by admitting that I am a staunch left-wing Democrat who is frequently disgusted by the liberal clap-trap that drools out of Hollywood these days. Where's the subtlety man?! It's in a Whit Stillman film like Barcelona....more info
  • Barcelona, a comedy after Jane Austin
    As the film opens, we are told that this is the last decade of the cold war. There is a shot of a rather unimpressive explosion at the American Library and of a young Spaniard throwing a rock through the window of a small IBM office. It seems an odd note on which to begin a romantic comedy, and delivered in un-scored, still-shots quickly falls to the background where, of course, it subtly colors almost every other incident in the film.

    Ted Boynton, an American sales rep from Chicago, is working on assignment in Barcelona, Spain. His cousin, Fred, a naval Lieutenant sent to carry out advance work in public relations before the arrival of the 6th fleet, has just arrived and is looking for a place to stay. It is an uneasy arrangement; they have been disputing and caviling since childhood. And continue to do so throughout the film. They are ruminators with long memories who share very few opinions. And when they meet Marta and Monserrat, "cool trade fare girls," there can be no statement, no thought, no act without commentary. So the film is largely composed of scenes in which Ted and Fred philosophize on love, beauty, business and cultural differences as they court-in tandem-Marta and Monserrat. And all of this transpires in fascinating, pretty little vignettes whose comedy gradually mounts and mounts and mounts until the sinister spin of the background events overtake the foregoing romantic sweep. How remarkable it is that we should pass--in only a very few minutes--from comedy to tragedy to comedy, and do so with the grace and majestic drama of a cloud momentarily passing before the sun.

    The great sweet beauty of this film, however, is the marriage of such engaging dialogue, such earnest deadpan deliveries shot in such eerie clarity--one reminiscent of the interiors in Dutch genre painting: clean, homely, homiletic. It is done with a kind of professorial remove: there is story followed by commentary, then more story followed by commentary. A still shot is followed by a people shot which is followed by a still shot and so on; but they are coupled in such a fashion that the shot of the characters is the only real animation, the only real action, the only real drive-giving conversation an otherwise missing dynamic. And this is a rare feat in modern American film. Ordinarily, romantic comedies depend upon mishaps, mistakes and misunderstandings, exaggerated out of all proportion, for all of their narrative beats and most of their laughter. In Barcelona, however, the physical climb and fall of the drama is entirely real, if not ordinary. Dilation and expansion of fact are reserved for the wit of the banter, the voice-over commentaries and the emotionally savory resolve. All in all, Barcelona is both beautiful and funny. It manages to turn a suite of classically static images-bronzed, burnished, melancholy-upon a fast-driving dialogue endowed with the modest but enhancing artificiality of a painting, a novel or--better yet--an infinitely refined film....more info
  • Underrated and Quiet Genius
    Whit Stillman has his eye on the world and his finger on the pulse of a certain breed of upperclass white society, and white upperclass men in particular. He understands their insecurities and ineffectualities while pulling apart the fabric of their lives to expose their structure as inherently faulty. In Barcelona, the result is always whimsical and occasionally hysterical, juxtaposing American and European thoughts and values while never losing sight of the great underlying tragedy: that everyone is lonely, regardless of where they come from or what language they speak.

    Stillman is incredibly literary as filmmakers go, injecting more sociopolitical dialogue into his scripts than most would dare. But the skilled actors, especially Stillman regulars Taylor Nichols and Chris Eigeman as cousins Ted and Fred Boynton, add a level of humanity to their otherwise textbook arguments that make them relevant and dryly hilarious. Stillman also has a penchant for the borderline absurd, masterfully combining comedy and tragedy. Who else could elicit humor while negating pity from a botched assassination attempt than Stillman and Eigeman, much less find a romantic angle to work?

    For my money, it's the little moments that make any story worth remembering, and Barcelona is peppered with them. Eigeman's failed attempts to introduce the Barcelona soiree crowd to the allure of the limbo... Nichols's uptight sales executive trying to loosen up by reading the Bible while dancing to "Pennsylvania 6-5000," unaware that he has an audience... an anecdote about a dead soldier's body being shipped home to the states, as told from the coffin's point of view while being transported on a forklift... even wordplays, as when Nichols accidentally accepts an invitation to an evening of jazz with "Vinyl Hampton." Small moments, but their resonance is huge. I've seen this movie twice, over five years ago, and I can still remember whole scenes to this day.

    Stillman's power as a director is understated, but the lasting effect of his little gems -- Barcelona and Metropolitan chief among them -- are worth seeking out....more info