Movie poster courtesy of Media Pro/Wild Bunch Studio
After seeing Woody Allen’s 2005 film, Match Point, which I felt sure a masterpiece, I’ve become a reluctant fan of Mr. Allen. I’ve tried to be a fan before, but, well, there was that off-putting scandal in his personal life and I’ve often felt I just didn’t “get” his movies. However, I’m impressed with and enjoyed Vicky Christina Barcelona in much the same way I was impressed with Match Point, and I find myself looking forward to his new films.
Mr. Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona has cast three of the most gorgeous people on the planet—Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson—and has set his story in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Barcelona, Spain. As with many of his films, he examines the notion of love and the complexities of romantic relationships and is dialogue-driven. Mr. Allen seems to develop interests in actresses and uses them again and again in his films, much in the way he did with his long-time lover, Mia Farrow. In Vicky Christina Barcelona, his crush seems to be with Scarlett Johansson as she was also cast in Allen’s 2005 film, Match Point and his 2006 film, Scoop.
Vicky Christina Barcelona is the story of two young women, Vicky and Christina, played by Hall and Johansson, respectively, and their summer spent in Barcelona, Spain. The two women are long-time friends but both have different desires in love: Vicky seeks devotion and security in marriage while Christina longs for love that she is unable to define, but is always on the lookout for. The story chronicles what happens to the two women and their ideas of love after they meet two Spanish artists, Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem, and his ex-wife, María Elena, played by Penélope Cruz.
Johansson and Hall were fine in their roles and I particularly enjoyed the sassy banter of Hall’s character, Vicky. I’m a huge fan of Ms. Cruz and am happy to watch her act in anything, but I particularly enjoyed her performance as the fiery, unpredictable María Elena. It was great fun to watch her lose her temper while spouting off obscenities in Spanish!
If I have one disappointment with the film, it is with the performance of Javier Bardem. In saying this, I loudly proclaim Mr. Bardem one of my favorite actors living today and find him perfectly capable—beyond capable--as an actor. However, I couldn’t quite feel that Mr. Bardem inhabited this role: he seemed aloof and detached and, well, inebriated most of the time. Perhaps this was Allen’s vision for the character, but I didn’t find him quite as dreamy as I was hoping.
In addition to his stars, Mr. Allen also cast witty, intelligent actors in Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, and Chris Messina, all who take marvelous turns and are fun to watch—especially Ms. Clarkson.
The Spanish music in this film is simply gorgeous—especially the selections featuring Spanish guitar! And the narration by Christopher Even Welch kept me smiling throughout.
Mr. Allen both wrote and directed Vicky Christina Barcelona and the film was produced by Letty Aronson, Jaume Roures, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Gareth Wiley. The film earned several awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical and Ms. Cruz’s performance won several awards for Best Supporting Actress.
I recommend this film if you’re a fan of Allen, the actors, or Spain! Mr. Allen’s
Vicky Christina Barcelona showcases beautiful people, in a beautiful place, listening to beautiful music, and saying beautiful things—well, sometimes saying beautiful things! The film is simply gorgeous!