Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Poster

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Very impressive Woody Allen film...
TheLittleSongbird19 April 2014
Though definitely not for all tastes, depending on whether you relate to the characters and the story. Woody Allen has done better than Vicky Cristina Barcelona, especially Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Husbands and Wives, but it is one of his better films in the past 15 years(very hit-and-miss at this point) along with Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine. Vicky Cristina Barcelona isn't perfect, it has a very abrupt ending but most problematic was the narration, which was completely pointless and it does feel patronising when you're been told what's happening like little schoolchildren- that's how it was delivered anyway- when it is being shown very clearly. There is no personal bias against narration, providing they move the story forward, but not when it adds nothing and just succeeds in over-explaining things like it does here. However, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is beautifully filmed and the locations are just gorgeous, making you wish you were there in Barcelona. The music score is both relaxing and infectious, and Allen's direction is accomplished. The film is brilliantly written narration aside, the dialogue is witty and thoughtful, by all means it doesn't break new ground but it still has a lot to say and does so in an entertaining and honest way. The story is a slow-burner but the way the characters interact and the way the relationships develop make it a largely compelling one at the same time, complex they are too and while the situations are fairly sensitive in the first place they are relatable as well. The characters are stereotypical(but mostly not that crudely, though judging from what I've read people will disagree with that) and typically neurotic but as is also typical of Allen they are very real as well. The acting is never less than very good, Patricia Clarkson standing out in support but the four leads dominate and all four impress. Penelope Cruz steals the show, she's rarely been lovelier and she always has been a beautiful woman, she is very funny and is fully immersed into the drama. Her scenes with Javier Bardem are among the film's best scenes. Bardem is effortlessly sexy that you completely understand the attraction, and he does very well at being sympathetic and seductive. Rebecca Hall plays a conflicted character and somehow succeeds in making her likable, her accent is fine. Scarlett Johansson is not as good as the other three, having to play the character that we in a way relate to the least but she is very sultry and compassionate and doesn't look uncomfortable at all. In conclusion, not among Allen's best films but very impressive stuff. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Good Allen
Michael_Elliott23 December 2008
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

*** (out of 4)

Girlfriends Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are on vacation in Barcelona when a painter named Juan (Javier Bardem) invites them to travel with him. Both women end up going and falling for Juan but their paths towards him are a lot different. Things take yet another turn when Vicky gets married and Juan's ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) enters his life again. I guess it's not really fair to say I'm a tad bit disappointed considering I liked the film yet I was really hoping for more even though what's here is pretty entertaining. I get the negative stuff out of the way first and for me it was the final thirty-minutes of the movie. The way Allen kept going back and forth between the two story lines wasn't all that interesting to me and I even think Vicky's character wasn't all that well written in the second half of the film. That's really a shame because Hall is very good in her role as are the rest of the cast but it's Bardem who really steals the movie. I really loved his performance here with that Romeo like charm that he pushes on all three of the women in his life. I think he perfectly captures that sexuality he is constantly giving off but it works because of his charm as well. Johansson is making a name for herself in Allen's movies and he's once again written a very good role for her and the actress delivers. Cruz is only in the film for a handful of scenes but she's really, really good here and works excellently with Bardem. As with the recent trend in Allen's films, this one here benefits from the beautiful Spanish landscape, which certainly sets the mood for the film. Allen's choice for a music is a good one and the cinematography is nice as well. While this is an entertaining film I wouldn't call it one of the director's best.
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Voice over Wrong Wrong Wrong
SnoopyStyle28 September 2013
Adventurous Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and her cultured reserved friend Vicky (Rebecca Hall) go vacationing in Barcelona. They get approached by the over confident Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Juan immediately propositions them. Cristina is interested, but Vicky is incensed over his presumptuousness. As the two girls travel with him, their trio is turned into chaos by the wild Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz).

Woody Allen has created one of his most fascinating films outside of New York. There is only one problem; The Voice Overs. It doesn't stop. It drowns out the film. I don't even know why Woody thought it's a good idea to constantly unceasingly drone on and on and on. And is there anybody less interesting doing narrations? It sucks out the passion in the film.

Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson were good at their particular roles. Javier Bardem is extremely fascinating and seemingly so realistic getting beautiful women with his confidence. But Penélope Cruz blows everybody away.
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Pretentious but Not at All Awful
Hitchcoc4 May 2019
Some reviewers once again don't like a film because they don't like Woody Allen. The criticisms are that they don't like the snobby New York intellectuals. The dialogue is heightened--people don't speak that way. Of course, one can take any movie and criticize it for lack of naturalistic purity. Here, two women find themselves out of their elements. They get into things that drive them to act in ways they don't usually. Yes, the men are boring, but that's just a factor. Most people are boring and we marry them and do the best we can. Only one or two women married Errol Flynn or Clark Gable. And we don't even know if their screen personas were the same as their entertainment ones. This movie sets up a situation and lets its figures interact.
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Summer in Barcelona
claudio_carvalho15 March 2009
The conventional Vicky (Rebecca Hall), who is engaged of Doug (Chris Messina), travels to Barcelona for summer vacations in the house of their parent's friends Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and Mark Nash (Kevin Dunn) with her unconventional and open-minded friend Cristina (Scarlett Johansson). While in a restaurant, the divorced painter Juan Antonio Gonzalo (Javier Bardem) flirts and invites them to travel to Oviedo with him, and also to go to bed with him. The reluctant Vicky does not accept the invitation but Cristina says yes and Vicky travels with her girlfriend. Once in Oviedo, Cristina has a crisis of ulcer and Vicky goes to sightseeing with Juan Antonio; then they go to his father's house and later they go to a guitar concert. Vicky falls in love with Juan Antonio and has sex with him. However, back in Barcelona, she does not tell anything to her friend and Cristina moves to Juan Antonio's house, while Vicky marries Doug. When the unstable former wife of Juan Antonio, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), has an OD, the painter brings her to his house and their troubled relationship harmonizes with the presence of Cristina, living a threesome. When Cristina asks for a time to travel to Paris and rethink their relationship, Vicky feels in doubt about her sentimental love.

I had a great expectation with "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", first because I am a great fan of Woody Allen, and also because of the Oscar of Penélope Cruz. Unfortunately I found this movie overrated, pretentious and annoying, with excessive narrative in off. The performance of Penélope Cruz is great, as usual, but not to be nominated and win an Oscar. Rebecca Hall has a better and better performance in this movie and Vicky is the most credible character. I like Scarlett Johansson very much, but I believe she needs to give a break in filming with Woody Allen, since her way of speaking and gestures are repetitive, like a female alter-ego of this director. Further, the yellow hair is awful. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
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He is the Juan
Prismark1030 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Woody Allen set off to Europe a decade ago to make his annual films. Maybe it was to do with lack of funding in the USA but a combination of various production companies in Europe were happy to stump cash for a Woody Allen film.

This is a story of two women. Vicky (Rebecca Hall)and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and they are in the city of Barcelona on vacation from the USA.

At a restaurant the encounter passionate painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) whom they had seen earlier at a party and who invites them to a house for a weekend.

The impulsive Cristina goes for it but Vicky is engaged in the USA is reluctant but they both set off with him. The encounter with Juan has an effect on both of them. Penelope Cruz later turns up as his volatile and suicidal wife. However she inspires Cristina's own artistic ambitions as a photographer whereas Vicky later has to deal with whether she wants her safe fiancé or someone passionate like Juan.

The film is well photographed, well it has to be when you dealing with the subject of art and artists, you need to make good use of light and colours. The film also makes good use of Barcelona with Gaudi's architecture being featured as well as the medieval narrow streets of Barcelona. You also get a bit of the Ramblas as well just to make sure that the tourist trail is followed.

However the film is slight, a bit of fluff and the fireworks only start when Cruz turns up as Maria who adds bite to the film. From the early moments when you see Vicky being stand offish to Juan's invitation you know that both women are going to end up sleeping with him, well these artistic types always get the women in films and more freethinking they are then more the merrier.

Good performances from the four leads with Cruz being exceptional but Allen's script is so-so.
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An excellent Woody Allen film that comes from a smart and sexy script, delivered with beautiful filming and strong performances from all
bob the moo26 December 2008
I watched this film a few days after I had seen Allen's previous effort, Cassandra's Dream, and I must admit that I was going through a bit of a spell with him because, over the last decade I have almost had to defend his films that I have liked, while also acknowledging the man that are average or worse. However, like Spike Lee, I rarely find a film of his that isn't worth seeing – whether it is any good or not being another question. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was out in the US and the fact that I had access to a Woody Allen film suggested that it was better than some of his more recent work (a lot of which I never got the chance to see in any cinema) but I was also wary because this film was well-known for one specific thing and I figured that perhaps it was being helped by that, with the studio hoping the "A Woody Allen film" tag wouldn't put the teenage male crowd off paying to see what they came for!

I needn't have worried because it is like the man behind Cassandra's Dream and this film cannot be the same person. It is a excellent film and one that Allen's fans will love and perhaps, just perhaps, it may even be good enough to win over those that wouldn't give him the time of day far less the price of a cinema ticket. It helps that the film is firmly back on themes that Allen has done so well in the past – matters of the heart, of passion, of love, of lust, of marriage. The whole film plays in its entirety just like one of the many "discussion" scenes where the characters discuss these matters over coffee etc and it is this consistency that makes it such a joy because what we see minute to minute engages and that is pretty much what we get from the film as a whole – but not as a sum of the parts but as the whole producing the same as the parts but in a different way. This interests me and it is delivered with a colour and flamboyance that somehow never takes away from the intelligence and thoughtfulness behind the writing; I'm not sure how he did it because the narrative is so wild that it could easily have been silly, but he holds it together without it even looking difficult.

The use of a narrator concerned me at first – particularly since I had just seen Allen S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G everything out in big dialogue chunks in Cassandra's Dream but on the contrary here the narrator is used to link and mostly compliments by being droll and being a great voice (good casting job there). The cast are what will attract an audience to this film and, beyond them just being some very big names, they are all excellent. Bardem is just so effortlessly sexual and sensual that he perfectly fits Allen's writing of this passionate, creative love versus the steady and frankly dull love of Messina's Doug. Hall essentially takes the traditional Allen role but makes it work more than others trying it have done. She doesn't take the mannerisms so much as getting the character right and she is the heart of the film, thrown between passionate love and reliable love. No question which Cruz represents and she does it really, really well. Out of sight for the majority of the film she strikes like a thunder storm, totally wild and full of fire – but not to the point where she is unattractive or not tempting, which would have taken away from what she was trying to be. Johansson is easily the least of these talented names but even she does well; I won't say brilliant but she was good. Again, Welch was a good choice for narrator and I always enjoy Clarkson even if she has limited times to shine here.

Allen's direction is really good in regards the actors but of equal note is how he and Spanish cinematographer Aguirresarobe have delivered Barcelona to the viewer. The city contributed towards the making of the film and on the evidence of this it will be money well spent. The city looks beautiful, with great landscapes, plenty of colour to match the passion and a real sense that this is a place where art, passion and inspired sex is all around. Beyond being just wallpaper, this is of course a key part of the film's world and it is another part of the reason that this hooked me so easily.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona will likely be gushed over in the same way that any recent Woody Allen that isn't rubbish is hailed as a "return to form" etc. On this occasion though, such praise is not a knee-jerk but fully deserved. The film is intelligent, passionate, comic, free-flowing and enjoyably light. It looks the part and the cast take the natural, smart script and make the absolute most of it. I guess if you dislike Woody Allen then none of this will matter but to those that even have a liking for his better work, this film will hit the spot. It has been a while since I have had the words "excellent" and "Woody Allen film" together in the same sentence, but this is an excellent Woody Allen film.
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kosmasp26 April 2009
I have to point one thing out right from the start, without spoiling anything, but you might have heard something about a scene involving Penelope, Scarlett and Javier. Let me tell you, if that's your main reason for watching the movie, you will be disappointed. I didn't really expect anything from that scene, even though some magazines made a big deal out of it.

I was surprised though to see another woman playing a major role in this movie. She's also playing a part in the "Frost/Nixon" movie that came out in 2008. She's not only beautiful, but really talented. While she might not have a brand name as do the other two females playing here, she does hold the movie together.

Another comment/user said, that the old Woody is back. Well let's just say, the weirdness factor really went up here. You have many loose ends, you have people acting strange (as they would in normal life too?), but most importantly: They talk a lot (mostly not saying as much as they talk)! If that's not your kind of movie, than you better stay away from this. I actually did like it :o)
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"What do you want in life besides a man with the right shorts?"
classicsoncall19 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone else get the impression that Javier Bardem's character Juan Antonio had no interest in anything but sex? If you didn't perceive that along the way, then it becomes more than evident when he seduces Vicky (Rebecca Hall) the final time, regardless of her conflicted feelings and potential collapse of her fledgling marriage. If anything, the movie's theme can be best summed up by the character of Cristina (Scarlett Johannson), who the fiery Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) pegs as possessing 'chronic dissatisfaction'. That struck a chord with this viewer, as I'm sure many people of both genders are struck with a semblance of chronic dissatisfaction in their lives or careers. In this picture, it appeared that the condition applied to just about every principal and ancillary character, except Juan Antonio of course, since he found ways to satisfy himself virtually every day of the week.

This was a different kind of role for Bardem, hard to reconcile against his relentless assassin turn in "No Country for Old Men". He was just so smooth, one could actually envy him. But it's Cruz who gets my vote as the fulcrum on which this story pivots, just catch her expression when she arrives with a pistol to take out Juan Antonio. Wow! Such brazen hatred in someone so lovely. I don't know if that was enough to earn her the Best Supporting Actress because she wasn't on screen that long, and not until the latter half of the picture, but for the amount of time you saw her, she presented an amazingly complex character.

But when it all came to an end, it didn't seem like there was anyone left better for the experience. Life is like that sometimes, so I guess loose ends have their place. The one thing I could have done without in the story was the droning narration by Christopher Evan Welch. I found it more distracting than helpful, tending to lower one's expectations for something exciting to happen. What I would have liked was something larger written for Juan Antonio's father Julio (Josep Maria Domènech). He looked like a character waiting to happen.
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Love That Woody
gavin69427 July 2015
Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter (Javier Bardem), unaware that his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz), with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

Woody Allen presents us a story of love, romance, relationships and (to some degree) culture. Whether we are comfortable with the idea or not, the things expressed here exist: relationships beyond strict monogamy, and beyond cheating. The human emotion can know many kinds of love and many kinds of desire, and a handful are explored here (though not nearly as many as in Allen's classic film on bestiality).

If you are going to have a seductive Spanish man, clearly it must be Javier Bardem. At different times the part could have been done by Antonio Banderas or others, but at the time was there a bigger star than Bardem? Surely not.
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona
jboothmillard19 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Written and directed Woody Allen, I mainly heard of this film for the one and Oscar it won for best supporting actress, but also it reunited the director with the leading actress of his Match Point, so I thought I might enjoy this too. With narration by Christopher Evan Welch, basically bright but cautious Vicky (Golden Globe nominated British actress Rebecca Hall) and sexually adventurous Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are on holiday in Barcelona, Spain. There they meet seductive painter Juan Antonio Gonzalo (No Country for Old Men's Golden Globe nominated Javier Bardem), who makes them the offer to spend the weekend with him, and by the end of it be sleeping together. Cristina reluctantly agrees, while Vicky objects, being engaged to fiancée Doug (Chris Messina), and hearing that Juan was violent to his wife, but she does go along. Once in Pviedo, Cristina develops an ulcer, so Juan takes Vicky sightseeing, and they eventually end up kissing each other and having sex, and of course she doesn't say anything to Cristina. While Vicky marries Doug, Vicky moves in with Juan after they too have had sex, but then Juan's unstable ex-wife Maria Elena (Oscar and BAFTA winning, and Golden Globe nominated Penélope Cruz) overdoses on something, and he brings her to his house to recover. As time goes by, what was once a distraction actually turns into a passion as Juan, Cristina and Maria all enjoy each other's company (yes, sexually). Vicky realises the mistake of marriage, and Cristina eventually leaves Juan and Maria, and when Vicky goes to see Juan again, Maria goes mad with a gun. In the end, Vicky and Cristina find each other, but they are all the way back where they started, unsure of where to go and what to do. Also starring Dogville's Patricia Clarkson as Judy Nash, Small Soldiers' Kevin Dunn as Mark Nash, Julio Perillán as Charles, Zak Orth as Adam, Carrie Preston as Sally and Pablo Schreiber as Ben. All four performers, Johansson, Bardem, Hall and obviously award-worthy Cruz are perfect for this film that is both charmingly funny, at times very dramatic, and a fully rounded romantic story, a very effective film about culture clashes. It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical. Very good!
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Woody Allen on vacation...a puff pastry, pretty to look at but unsatisfying
moonspinner5520 August 2014
Textbook Woody Allen, via Barcelona. Two young American friends visit Spain for the summer: Cristina is adventurous but aimless, while high-minded Vicky holds tight to her principles but is ready to melt. After a chance meeting with a handsome local artist, who is still enraptured with his fiery ex-wife, both ladies become individually involved with the hot-blooded lover--relationships that become even more complicated when the sexy ex returns. Not the rich, sumptuous spread one might expect, this light, minor Allen effort has very little of his customary wit. The location shooting is pleasant but unremarkable, while the performances are rather colorless. Penélope Cruz won a surprising Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work, though her character (a temperamental train-wreck who thinks nothing of being intrusive) is rather a born loser. Allen's screenplay is talk-heavy with the type of relationship issues he has been mining for years (he fails to come up with anything fresh), while the scenario (deemed "seductive" and "sexy" by professional critics) is curiously muted. There's next-to-nil seducing going on, while the sex either takes place off-screen or is interrupted. ** from ****
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If you like Woody Allen, you will like this movie.
TxMike2 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Many Woody Allen films are less likely to have a story that has a "resolution", instead will be more "slice of life" stories. But "slice of life" of rather ordinary, honest, faithful people isn't that interesting so he makes them rather unusual and quirky. This is that type of movie.

Rebecca Hall as Vicky and Scarlett Johansson as Cristina are university students who have the opportunity to spend two months in Spain. Vicky is traditional and is engaged to a traditional man back in New York, and they plan to have a traditional wedding and a traditional life, all in all predictable and some think boring.

Christina, on the other hand, is just about the opposite of all that. She has a more wild zest for life and the experiences it can provide. She is more likely to experiment when the opportunity presents itself.

But both Vicky and Christina are having a nice, pleasant visit until one evening at a function they encounter Javier Bardem (evil guy in "No Country for Old Men") as Spanish artist Juan Antonio Gonzalo. He is the type that doesn't exist in reality, but here he is charming, intelligent, witty, sexy and ... forward. He very calmly tells the two friends that he would like to have sex with both of them, at the same time. Instead of anyone becoming offended, they have an Allen-esq discussion about it.

All that results in their flying off in a small plane to another location. Some interactions result. Then what starts out as a rather nice developing love affair between Christina and Juan Antonio is thrown into turmoil by Penélope Cruz as Maria Elena , the recent former wife of Juan Antonio. (Cruz has received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for this role.) A feature of this movie is Christopher Evan Welch (whom we never see) as Narrator. While this feature of the movie has been widely criticized by some, I found it a rather nice way to augment the story without having to interpret everything a character might be doing.

When the 90-minute movie is over, we observe that all the characters have been changed by the experiences, but they mainly continue in the directions they were headed as the story began. Just an interesting, somewhat perverted, slice of life story. For my tastes it is somewhat overrated.
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taking a chance on love
blanche-219 July 2011
Two young women spend the summer in Barcelona in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona). At first, the women seem like caricatures: Vicky (Penelope Hall) is serious, somewhat conservative, and not much of a risk-taker; Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a free spirit, artistic, spontaneous, and up for adventure. However, one might look at them as two sides of the same woman.

When an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) invites them to Oviedo on a private plane, Cristina jumps at the chance, while a nervous Vicky goes along just to keep Cristina company. Cristina jumps into an affair with Juan Antonio; for Vicky, it's a one-nighter that destroys her concept of who she is and what she wants. While Cristina and Juan Antonio are together, Juan's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) shows up.

Allen makes it clear that in his world (and in ours), many people opt for unhappiness rather than move out of an uncomfortable situation - which in its way, has become comfortable. At least it's the devil you know. While Cristina is seeking ways to express herself through art, and relishes all of her experiences as a means of finding herself, Vicky sees it all as a threat to what she believes she wants.

The gorgeous Penelope Cruz is outstanding as the passionate, angry Maria Elena, and Javier Bardem portrays Juan Antonio as one who accepts a Bohemian lifestyle as a matter of course. Juan's and Maria's fights are delicious and very realistic. Scarlett Johansson is very right for the part of the young, natural beauty Cristina, for whom life is always a surprise as she tries to find her way.

Beautifully photographed, this is a deceptive film. It's breezy, it's laid back, it's sexy -- like Cristina -- but again like Cristina, the film has many layers. Really good work by Allen - except for that disconcerting narration which added nothing to the film. Otherwise, it's solid.
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Woody en Espanol
Quinoa198425 August 2008
Vicki (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlet Johansson) are the two main characters of Woody Allen's latest romantic comedy, but part of the ingenuity of the film is that the third name, Barcelona, is a character itself. Aside from the locales and hot-blooded, romantic atmosphere with Spanish guitars and wine in the night and gorgeous architecture during the day, which Allen and his DP capture wonderfully, the other characters Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) seem to spring out almost naturally out of this balmy city and country. It may be Allen's last international film for a while (according to reports his next film will be back to New York), but it's maybe the best at evoking this effect of a place on the characters (or, in spurts, its Jules and Jim inspiration).

Vicki and Cristina, as we learn from the Barry Lyndon-esquire authoritative narrator, are on leave from New York City in Barcelona for the summer, Vicki for studying purposes and Cristina as her friend whose looking for something new creatively after a bad acting experience and an ex-boyfriend. Almost immediately after shacking up with friends Judy and Mark (Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn), Vicki and Cristina are approached one night by local painter Juan, who tempts them (or rather Cristina) with a week end in Obejo. Cristina falls for him immediately, but Vicki, already engaged to Doug (Messina) back in New York, is resistant to his charms - which, by the end of the week end, gives way to a passionate encounter.

But after this, there's more complications, and not just with Vicki and Juan (or the surprise arrival of Doug to Barcelona for an also surprise wedding) and their suppressed affections. There's also Juan's ex-wife, Maria, who had a volcanic relationship and who comes back into Juan's life while Cristina is staying with him. To say much more would reveal and spoil a lot more of the fun and romance and questions Allen raises about monogamy and the complacency of marriage. Which, on the surface, might not sound like the 72 year old filmmaker is pursuing anything new to cover, as he's explored marriage, infidelity, and, as Maria Elena says at one point to Cristina, chronic dissatisfaction with lovers.

And yet when it's at its best, and here's the surprising part, Vicki Cristina Barcelona is Allen's funniest, most intelligent and well-acted romantic comedy in many years, maybe even in this decade (which maybe isn't saying a lot since this and Match Point are the closest he's reached to greatness since the 90s). It works because of the actors dedication to the material: Cruz is a total tornado of a presence here, with this and Volver her best performances to date; Bardem, again, shows his layers in Juan as a man of romance and love and lust but also tenderness and humor and rage and all these things that show how great an actor he is; Hall is very good in a part that some actresses might sleepwalk through if not coached and coaxed right; Clarkson, for just one or two scenes where she reveals her own fractured marriage to Vicki, is great; and Johansson, who as a given is stunning in her appearance, reveals again in the context of a Woody Allen movie how underrated she can be as an actress- when used right and not just as ho-hum window dressing.

It also works because Allen knows how to write dialog and relationships so brilliantly, maybe better than anyone working in film today in terms of simple but all-too-complex revelations on the trapped nature of the human condition, the struggle of what love is and what it is to be an artist, or simply how to function with someone that you love, but don't "love" in that same way one meets a sweeping-off-your-feet romance in Barcelona like so. The scenes he writes here are so good, and are so cool in being a kind of Woody-version of a Spanish soap opera (hysterical couple and three-way included, though not graphic), that he almost gets in the way of it with the narration. This last part is the only real significant flaw, as unlike in Husbands and Wives, where Allen used narration in a documentary style and to shorter bits of effect, here it takes some getting used to having a person talking as if reading excerpts from a trashy romance novel, and pops in giving those "and then she never felt the same way again" kind of notations to a character or scene that are just unnecessary.

If you love classic Woody Allen romance comedy, and you also are interested in how he's starting to get a little riskier, a little more interested in the existential angles of his characters that he's touched on off-and-on for years and has only finally (Match Point and Cassandra's Dream) opened up in full bitter glory, this is the pick of the rest of the summer, maybe even of the year. Overall, you just don't get rom-coms this smart, or just plain funny and perfectly PG-13 outrageous, as Vicki Cristina Barcelona gets.
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Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona was a pretty intellectually stimulating movie
tavm26 November 2013
I'm usually more a fan of Woody Allen's earlier work when he was very much of a funnyman than his later ones when he seems more serious in his intent. So it is with that in mind that I found this one, about two American women (Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson) who found themselves in Spain and end up encountering a painter (Javier Bardem) who has an ex-wife (Penelope Cruz), pretty enthralling throughout but also feeling a bit detached since while I was expecting a comedy, I didn't expect-and didn't get-too much laughs. It was fascinating listening to all the Allen-esque dialogue and getting what he was intending so on that front, it was pretty entertaining. So on that note, Vicky Christina Barcelona is worth a look. P.S. I recognized one of the players, Chris Messina, as currently being in the TV series, "The Mindy Project".
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Vicky Cristina is Barcelona Bull *
edwagreen20 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Woody Allen has reached the point in his long career that his films depicting people going for master's degrees and who have sexual neurotic hangups are becoming more ridiculous. Such is the case with this utterly pointless film.

Even the person who serves as the narrator appears to be bored with this entire episode.

Two young girls spend the summer in Barcelona and meet a painter, played by a more subdued and romantic Lothario, Javier Bardem. One lady is going for her master's in art and is engaged to be married to Mr.Nice Guy. The other is an actress who appeared in a 12 minute film about love. Yes, 12 minutes.

Both the girls soon romp with the Bardem character. He has an insanely jealous ex-wife played by Penelope Cruz. Her winning of the best supporting actress Oscar leaves me as perplexed as when Gloria Grahame won in 1952 for "The Bad and the Beautiful." This is totally undeserved as Cruz, as Maria Elena, comes across as a screaming lunatic.

At one point Cristina, played by Scarlett Johansson, takes up with a reunited Bardem and Maria. She then has to go off to Paris for a couple of weeks to think things through. If Allen were trying to create A MENAGE A TROIS, he let a potentially funny idea go awry.

When Vickie, who marries her fiancé in Barcelona, sneaks off with Bardem, she soon encounters a raging Maria, who accidentally shoots her in the hand. Imagining trying to justify to her new husband that she had met her college professor who happened to have a revolver. At least, if Allen had actually had a revolver, this idea might have worked. It doesn't because the picture is absurd.
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Fresh and vibrant work from Woody Allen
Gordon-113 January 2009
This film is about two American tourists meeting a charming and free thinking artist in Barcelona. Their love lives are never the same again after a series of entanglements.

Vicky and Cristina are very different people with opposite ideals. And yet, they somehow fall for the same guy, wrecking the lives of all three of them. This entangled mess is well developed and engagingly told. It gets me interested to know what will happen next, and I feel for all the characters. I feel for Vicky's confusion, Cristina's jealousy and Maria Elena's neurotic outbursts. Together with the great background music and vibrant visuals, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a refreshing work from Woody Allen. It lacks the constant babbling dialogs that appears in many Woody Allen's films, but it still feels like a Woody Allen film. I enjoyed it from start to finish.
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One Of The Best Woody Allen Films
sunwarrior1316 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a romantic comedy/drama that features Scarlett Johansson,Rebecca Hall,Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.It centers on two American women,Vicky and Cristina while on vacation in Barcelona.It was written and directed by Woody Allen.

The story starts as two American friends, the cerebral and somewhat uptight Vicky and the heedless and free-spirited Cristina arrive in Barcelona to spend the summer.They stay with friends of Vicky's family she can further her work as a grad student in Catalan cultural studies. While Cristina goes there to pursue an interest in photography. Because they are young and beautiful and artistically inclined, it is only a matter of time before they run across Juan Antonio, a hunky artist who is still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena.Cristina is smitten. Vicky is not for she is engaged. The three depart anyway on a spontaneous weekend journey to the scenic town of Oviedo. Sex happens and that complications ensue. Soon after they return to Barcelona, Cristina is ensconced in Juan Antonio's house and Vicky is awaiting the arrival of his beau, who thinks it might be romantic to get married in Spain, to try out the show in the provinces before opening for family and friends in New York. Then Maria Elena appears on the scene, penniless and in emotional upheaval. Though their marriage ended when she literally stabbed him in the back, Juan Antonio feels obliged to take her in. And Cristina goes along with the new arrangement.

This is one of the best Woody Allen movie in years.It has great dialogue.It is refreshing to have pretty people who say witty and sometimes interesting things.Besides Allen's amazing dialogue, he also had the most perfect musical score and some great ideas on how to shoot certain scenes.Also worth mentioning that this movie was shot on location in Spain that provided the film a beautiful cinematography. The acting is also commendable.Penelope Cruz is definitely superb as Maria Elena by elevating what could be stereotypical role into indelible characters.Obviously,her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress is a testament to that.Overall,it was definitely one of the most enjoyable and best films during its time of release.
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Woody Discovers Space Jazz
tedg27 February 2009
You never know what he is going to do next, but you can be sure that whether we like it or not, a lot of thought will have gone into it.

This time a lot of adventure too.

Add these three elements:

-- among the several masteries he has is the way he can imbue a film with the sense of place, allowing that to penetrate, to saturate. I think he did this with New York before he realized it. Now, even though it is clearly uncomfortable, he is traveling the world looking for other places.

Unfortunately, there are few places on the planet that are as visually keyed to emotions as Manhattan. London. Barcelona.

I'm really pleased to see him still pushing himself, still placing himself outside his previous success. Here, he works with a person as place. It's a challenging cinematic experiment.

-- he merges this experiment with another that he and others have mastered: a single character appearing in three personalities. He only does two at a time in all three combinations. And again it is autobiographical. All Woody is.

His three types of women who collectively compose his complex character here are played by Scarlett with whom he clearly has a quiet sexual passion. Here she is adventuresome enough to enter his cinematically composed she-being as essentially sexual being. Her occupation is continuously improving photography which (with painting) Woody and others often conflate with film-making.

His second woman is too predictable to describe. Woody has entered Almodovar territory, physically, sexually and emotionally. Cruz merely has to show up in her passionate Almadovar kit. She's an emotional basketcase, a sexual genius, a painter.

The third woman is the new bit in this equation. She's the most attractive, the most self aware. Where the film is sets about watching the exploration of selves in place, she is a student of that place. She is the one who sees and fears and yet indulges. She is the true love, or rather her existence is what makes love possible.

Her occupation is the "study" of Catalon culture.

The radical observation here is that she leaves the place, this empowering it.

-- and of course the third grand element is not that this is Barcelona, but Gaudi's Barcelona. The place is only accidentally a physical place. It's really a spatial philosophy that suits (and indeed invented) the notion of superimposed ambiguous sexual emotions on space.

We are, for all the womanly registration scenes, in Gaudi spaces, either physically or by reference. Energies from the soul recorded, enticed and charmed from the forms we see in two dimensions.

If Woody ever were to do a three D movie, this would be the one. Alas, he passes. And he omits the most complex and life- changing place, the crypt of the unfinished chapel. Shame on his advisers.

This is essential Tedg stuff. Introspection. Complex love, it's relationship to attraction, what it means to be a woman and how that can be traced in cinematic architectural sex.

As a Woodyfold, it ranks with my other subtle favorite which it may well replace in my pantheon of essential films "Sweet and Lowdown."

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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jotix10020 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Something happened to Woody Allen when he decided to abandon Manhattan, the setting of most of his films, for Europe. It seems Mr. Allen has found a new way to leave behind his angst in exchange for a new, somewhat less restrained sexual atmosphere in which to set his movies. This, of course, is a welcome relief. After all, Mr. Allen was getting in a rut with his last cinematic ventures.

Every year thousands of young American college students invade Europe, either in exchange programs, or just enrolled in foreign language studies, or just vacationing in the Continent. Most of these kids come from conservative, and in many ways, puritanical backgrounds, probably having no sexual experience to speak of. Vicky and Cristina, two of those students, are seen in Barcelona where they undergo a somewhat sentimental education in a different milieu.

While Vicky is less adventurous than her friend Cristina, both will be transformed by the meeting of the hunky Juan Antonio and his estranged wife, Maria Elena. Juan Antonio offers them sex, and even proposes to do it with both of them at the same time. Vicky, a more prudish girl, can't go along, but Cristina, the more adventuresome, doesn't even bat an eyelash when she gets together with him and the former wife, who is game for entering in a sexual triangle.

This time though, the principal male figure, Juan Antonio, is an aggressive man, in contrast with other characters that have served Mr. Allen well in his American movies. Javier Bardem proves he can excel when he is guided with a sure hand, as is the case here. Penelope Cruz fares better than in most of her Hollywood previous work in a role that gives her an edge over the more passive parts she has played before.

This is not to say there has not been sex involved in Mr. Allen's previous films. In showing a new freedom in how to present it on the screen, he has shied away from all the neurotic men and women that have been at the center of his work. This is a welcome development in a man who has decided to reinvent himself by getting away from his usual playing ground.
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Scarecrow-888 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Every bit the Woody Allen movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the romantic adventures of two American tourists(Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson) over the course of a summer in Barcelona, how passionate encounters with a Bohemian artist(Javier Bardem)effect their lives for the future forever. Cristina(Johansson), must adjust to a very emotionally fragile ex-wife(Penélope Cruz)who returns to Juan Antonio's(Bardem)home after nearly committing suicide. We also are treated to the situation involving Vicky(Hall)and her struggling to get over that one heated night with Juan Antonio while now married to a wealthy hot shot businessman(Chris Messina)she doesn't truly love. Patricia Clarkson is Vicky's stepmother(..who is in love with her husband's best friend) and tries to steer her towards Juan Antonio, knowing that she doesn't love her husband and has deep feelings for the other man just out of reach.

As is a constant in Woody Allen's oeuvre, sex and emotional entanglements regarding love are of great consequence to the characters, except a great deal of this film is narrated, an overlapping voice informing us of the story as the principles' dialogue is drowned out by the one telling us of the difficulties, thoughts and feelings plaguing the stars of the film. Allen fans are accustomed to relationship comedies with characters who do not know what they really want and often swap partners throughout, and this 2008 movie is no different. It is refreshing to see an Allen film, however, in a different location, the beauties of Spain used splendidly as the stories for his characters are explored. I prefer the older movies where the characters have more dialogue and we aren't told almost everything by a narrator, but the cast equip the flavorful surrounding nicely and when they are allowed to speak/act, it is worthwhile, I think. Hall is a nice edition to Allen's family(Johansson has become Allen's new lead actress, this like her third film for the director), and seems to have a meatier role than Scarlett Johansson whose Cristina seems mellow and cool despite having to contend with a volatile Penélope Cruz. Cruz has the flashiest role, a loose cannon whose psyche is tempered as she becomes attached to Cristina, soon forming a loving connection which, for a while, enables the three of them, including Juan Antonio, to form a family of sorts. When you watch a Woody Allen film, you come to an understanding that oftentimes love and real feelings are brushed aside for comfort and complacency as is the case for Vicky who chooses the husband who can offer her a home and money instead of the unpredictable environment of Juan Antonio for whom she carries a serious torch for. Bardem is the handsome Lothario who sweeps everyone off their feet, charming and sensitive. I imagine many viewers will find the characters featured in this film as shallow, self-absorbed and superficial. I think the movie's greatest strength is of the unique relationship that develops between Bardem, Cruz, and Johansson.
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Appealing rumination on romance from Woody Allen.
Hey_Sweden4 August 2019
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two sexy young American tourists taking a summer holiday in Spain. They are both drawn (reluctantly, at first, for Vicky) to a lusty, soulful Spanish painter named Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Things threaten to get even more sticky when Juan Antonios' ex-wife Maria Elena (Oscar-winning Penelope Cruz), an unstable artist, re-enters the picture.

"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a pretty good depiction of different approaches to love, romance, and affairs, as well as functioning as a fantastic travelogue. Obviously, it would be hard to knock any film with so much aesthetic value and attractive women as this picture has going for it. Writer / director Woody Allen makes sure to keep characters and situations reasonably realistic, giving his story a good foundation. Of course, it does get a real shot in the arm in the second half with Cruz' entrance into the picture. Her fiery performance is quite intoxicating.

But the whole cast is fine. Juan Antonio may be a passionate sort of guy, but he also has no desire to be a home-wrecker given that Vicky is already engaged to another man (Chris Messina). Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn round out a main cast in this yarn of people struggling to find their version of happiness.

Accompanied by a lovely musical soundtrack, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" may not be on the same level as Allen's weightiest works, but it's far from being mere fluff. It's actually a pretty intelligent script backed up by very attractive settings.

This viewers' only annoyance was with the ever-present, and largely unnecessary, voice-over narration.

Seven out of 10.
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Another Signature Woody Allen Film…Even More Promiscuous than Usual
LeonLouisRicci3 March 2016
The Descriptive "Auteur" is Used Liberally at times but in this case it is Precisely Perfect. Could Anyone possibly watch Woody Allen's Annual Contribution and Homage to "Art" and not Immediately "See" that it is a Woody Allen Film.

His Signature is as Recognizable as "John Hancock". No One Else could have Made or even Attempts to make Films like the Woodster. His Films Stand Alone amongst the Plethora, Flaws and All, and Announce Themselves as..."Here's Woody".

This One has many of the Characteristics of His later Movies. A Foreign Location, Impeccably and Beautifully Shot with Artistic Zeal. Fantastic Actors, Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, and Penelope Cruz. A sharply Minimalist Script with pronouncements of Insight and Wonder about the state of the Human Condition.

The Angst riddled Male-Female Relationships among the Intelligentsia and Artistic Community is Nothing New for Woody. But Here He goes more Sensual and Sexual than Usual. It's a Fun Movie but it's not all Fun and Games and is Painful at times. After all "Life is full of pain", so why not Enjoy what One Can, so to Speak.

The Movie Never Gets Woody Allen Funny as it seems to be more Concerned with Experimentation and "Living" without the Cushion of the Comedic. It's an Adult Tale told with Progressive Adults in Mind and Comes with a Warning about such Promiscuous Behaviour, but because it is Woody Allen, it is a Mild Warning at best. You Decide if You want to Play.
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Spanish Fly-By-Night
writers_reign8 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Lots of positive reports about this one coupled with 'his best for ages' squibs perhaps oversold this one. There are several pluses; the location shooting that stops just short of being a valentine to Barcelona, the really fine performance from Rebecca Hall, the not bad performances from Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz but against this we must balance the wooden performance that teeters on the edge of being embarrassing from Scarlett Johanson and the woeful lack of the one-liners that tend to define a Woody Allen movie. The arabesque performed by the several lovers both old and new is mildly interesting but ultimately says nothing new nor does it add anything to the sum of knowledge on the subject. On the other hand it is certainly a pleasant diversion.
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