Sexually adventurous Cristina and her friend Vicky, who is bright but cautious, holiday in Barcelona where they meet the celebrated and wholly seductive painter, Juan Antonio. Vicky is not about to dive into a sexual adventure being committed to her forthcoming marriage. But Cristina is immediately captivated by Juan Antonio's free spirit and his romantic allure is enhanced when she hears the delicious details of his divorce from fellow artist, the tempestuous Maria Elena. Written by
When Juan Antonio receives a phone call in the middle of the night, he reaches over and turns on a lamp. The lamp turns on, then the wall lights up a split second later, revealing the wall's glow to be coming from another light source. See more »
Vicky and Cristina decided to spend the summer in Barcelona. Vicky was completing her master's in Catalan Identity, which she had become interested in through her great affection for the architecture of Gaudí. Cristina, who spent the last six months writing, directing, and acting in a 12-minute film which she then hated, had just broken up with yet another boyfriend and longed for a change of scenery. Everything fell into place when a distant relative of Vicky's family who lived in...
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Vicky Christina Barcelona isn't quite the work of genius that several critics are making it out to be, but it is Woody Allen's most solid film in nearly a decade and by far his sexiest.
I will admit that the claims that it's his best movie in 20 years may have raised my expectations unfairly. After all, the past two decades has brought us Sweet and Lowdown (inspired Sean Penn and Samantha Morton), Another Woman (inspired Gena Rowlands), Husbands and Wives (inspired Judy Davis), Bullets Over Broadway ("Don't Speak!") and what, in my humble opinion, is his most extraordinary film ever: Crimes and Misdemeanors.
That said, there is much in the film's Plus Column. Bardem has never been sexier in English. Rebecca Hall is a sublime revelation. Scarlett Johansson does her most consistent and least grating work since Girl With the Pearl Earring. The supporting cast is a treasure trove of great character actors: Kevin Dunn (usually but effectively charmless), Chris Messina (a complicated mix of sexy and dull), Pablo Schreiber (virtually a cameo), and Patricia Clarkson (earthy, tragic and terrific as always).
And then there's Penelope Cruz. Incapable of wrong-doing in my eyes since All About My Mother, she is everything you've heard she is. At first, the character appears to be another version of Rahda Mitchell's bad Melinda only dark and Spanish. But she evolves and blossoms, like a mushroom cloud in slow motion.
The story is simple and the structure is a bit unwieldy. As a result, the film feels longer than it is and while it does saunter, it's never boring. The screenplay seems more concerned with re-arranging the configurations of lovers and exploring its themes than it does with sustaining the dramatic tension.
The films only significant, though ultimately not fatal, flaw is Miss Johansson. For the legions who thought Javier Bardem could generate romantic and sexual chemistry with anyone or anything, well, I have bad news. When she is sharing the screen with both Bardem and Cruz, Johansson's limitations as an actor and as a screen presence.
Ultimately, though, Vicky Christina Barcelona is still a worthwhile endeavor. An enjoyable romp filled the requisite angst and passion of Woody Allen's better efforts. Best of all, there's Spain and Barcelona. The landscapes, people and architecture provide even more spectacular real estate porn than Melinda & Melinda. Not only does it make you want to go to Barcelona, it will make you feel like you've lived there and loved it.
Despite its unevenness,
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