|Vicky Cristina Barcelona [Blu-ray]
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Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz (Volver) and Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson (The Nanny Diaries) light up the stunning city of Barcelona in this sexy romantic comedy. Vicky and Cristina are two young Americans spending a summer in Spain, who meet a charming Casanova and his beautiful but volatile ex-wife. When they all become romantically entangled, the smoldering sparks begin to fly in hilarious fashion. Critics rave, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is one of Woody Allen s finest films, with bravura performances from its incredible cast (Jeffrey Lyons, Reel Talk/NBC).
It must be true that getting out of town can do a fellow a lot of good, because Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the best movie Woody Allen has made in years. Okay, you're right, 2006's Match Point already claimed that honor and, as Allen's first film made in England, established the virtues of getting away from overfamiliar territory (namely Manhattan). But the Woodman's first film made in Spain matches the ice-cold Match Point for crisp authority, and yields a good deal more sheer pleasure besides. Rebecca Hall (Vicky) and Scarlett Johansson (Cristina) play two young Americans, best friends, spending a summer in Catalonia. Vicky is going for a master's in "Catalan identity" (though her Spanish is shaky); Cristina is going along for, oh, just about anything. That soon includes celebrated abstract artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who's anything but abstract in his forthright proposition that the two join him in his private plane, his travels, and his bed. That he has an insane ex-wife, Maria Elena (Pen®¶lope Cruz), who may or may not have tried to kill him is not really an issue until the wife reappears and ... well, consider the possibilities.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona isn't exactly a comedy, at least not in the manner of Allen's "early, funny ones," but it's informed by a rueful wit that finds its fullest expression in reflective voiceover commentary. Spoken by Christopher Evan Welch, but surely on behalf of the 73-year-old auteur, this element of the film is neither (as some have charged) patronizing nor uncinematic; rather, it's integral to the movie's participation in a venerable European literary tradition, the sentimental education. Instead of Bergman or Fellini, this time Allen is invoking the Fran?ois Truffaut of Jules and Jim and Eric Rohmer in his many meditations on the game of love. The entire cast is terrific (both Hall and Johansson get to play "the Woody part" at different points), with Bardem and Cruz especially delightful as exemplars of Old Worldliness. Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe honors every drop of Catalonian sunlight and glint of Gaud®™ architecture. --Richard T. Jameson
Stills from Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Click for larger image)
- Woody bounces back...clever script; fine performances
Woody Allen has lost a lot of his initial spark from years past. His self-effacing cynicism has evolved into a somewhat mean-spirited display of cruel behavior. Each of Woody's films have been an homage to one classic director from cinema's past. "Match Point", a tribute to Hitchcock, was cold and bleak, with none of Hitchcock's wit and charm. If "Vicky C B" is an homage, I would say it is to Eric Rohmer, always devoted to that enigma that is "love". Woody has done a fine job here, and the casting is flawless. Rebecca Hall is especially good, but she's ably supported by Scarlett Johasson and Javier Bardem. The DVD I watched had NO extras. It's all silly, and rife with bad decisions, but it isn't until Penelope Cruz explodes on the scene, as the mysterious first wife, Maria Elena, that the film takes off. Unfortunately, her role wasn't as fully realized as I would've liked, but all of her scenes were enjoyable. I have no problem with her Oscar win. All in all, I thought "VCB" was more entertaining than most of Woody's recent films. He's still got it, but may be grasping for ideas. I would like to see him parody Alain Resnais as a comedy; that existential confusion of films like "Last Year at Marienbad" ('62) could be quite accessible in the hands of the brilliant Mr. Allen. Anyone remember "What's Up, Tiger Lily?"? NOTE: I read the script of "Last Year at Marienbad", with director's notes, and it made sense. First-time viewers of that film can only be perplexed and bored. ...more info
- Stellar film...
Wonderful performances including an Academy-Award winning one from Penelope Cruz, excellent score, beautiful locales--all more than enough reasons to enjoy the deliciously sexy "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Only quibble is that there are no extras on this DVD. But the film is well worth adding to your collection....more info
All I can say is this was a really boring and dumb movie. If I could give zero stars, I would. I am glad I borrowed it from the library, so I didn't spend any money on it. I like some of Woody Allen's stuff, but this was a pointless film....more info
- Barcelona: The Third Ingredient
In "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", Woody Allen explores yet another variation on his central theme of complex sexual relationships, but this time through the lens of the tourist's camera. The tourist is Scarlett Johansson in her role as the restless Cristina, who has no idea what, exactly, she is compulsively seeking through the lens of her digital camera (Metaphorically, she begins to catch a glimpse of it only after she exchanges digital for film.). Both Cristina and her intellectual best friend, Vicky (Rebecca Hall), arrive in Barcelona, where they are quickly captivated by the attentions of an aspiring artist (Javier Bardem), who is encumbered by baggage--the baggage in question being his suicidal/homicidal wife, Maria Elena (played to the hilt by Penelope Cruz).
Through the splendid cinematography of Javier Aguirresarobe, Allen makes it evident that the two friends are seduced as much by the spell of Spain in general--with its "gently weeping" guitars, midnight tapas and golden wines--and Barcelona in particular--with its magnificent art and architecture, ingredients that render the scenario, which in a more mundane setting would seem improbable, plausible. In other words, the city--the third ingredient of the title--works its magic both on characters and viewers, who are able to suspend their disbelief as one tends to do when actually traveling to the enchanting cities of southern Europe. Allen demonstrates this proposition with Vicky's husband and his friends who discuss nothing but computers and business affairs while her thoughts drift away with the notes of a classical Spanish guitar.
Some reviewers have criticized the voice-over, but as far as I'm concerned, this straightforward device lent the film an old-fashioned charm. Others have criticized the intrusion of Woody Allen's narrative voice into the dialogue. And yes, there certainly are lines that one can "hear" Woody Allen reciting, but such intrusions made the film all the more enjoyable for me; and I suppose that the enjoyment of this film will depend on whether one likes Woody Allen's humor, or not. To some it may seem like the same old schtick; to others [as in the case of his title "Vicky Cristina"], Allen's idiosyncratic brand of humor represents the third ingredient without which his film would not seem complete....more info
- The Lives of vain, yet rather dull people
Two American girls go to Barcelona, both behave in different, but equally silly, ways while attempting to "find themselves". Neither do manage to learn very much at all, least of all the one supposedly doing post-graduate research on Catalan culture, - she seems to do no study either, which might help. They fall victim to a smouldering hulk, and his over the top ex-Wife. (This role well played by Ms Cruz).
If this plot reminds you somewhat of Henry James, you might choose one of his novels rather than this very lame, unfunny and sad little film. Alternatively, go to the back catalogue of Mr Allen if you seek amusement....more info
My wife and I watched this last night not expecting anything and loved it. Not a normal Woody Allen film, but a great rental at the least. I don't see how anybody could not enjoy this at home on the couch with a glass of wine....more info
- A Valentine to Barcelona
A new Woody Allen film,not the film of the year but entertaining. This film pays homage to Barcelona, the photography is superb. The city lush and beautiful. I suspect they will see an increase in tourism this year.
Vicki and Christina, friends come to Barcleona to stay with Christina's aunt for the summer while Christina finishes her masters thesis. Christina played by Rebecca Hall and Vicki, played by Scarlett Johanssen are two Americans intent on a summer of fun. Vicki is the daring one, taking up Juan Antonio's offer for a weekend of fun and lovemaking. Juan Antonio played by Javier Bardem is an artist and is sttracted to both women. He tells them he wants to make love to both of them. Christina accompanies Vicki and Antonio to the island. And, from there on in, the relationship of both women with Antonio and his ex-wife Marie Elena played by Penelope Cruz are the crux of the film. Woody Allen has stated this film is about relationships, and yes it is and that is all there is.
Xavier Bardem plays his part to the hilt. He is the Romeo or Valenmtino and you can feel him smoldering. He loves this film and he is the best thing in it. I have a difficult time explaining how Penelope Cruz won a Best Supporting actress for this film. To me her role did not measure up.
This is a nice little summer film. Javier Bardem and Barcelona are the stars.
I would suggest you see this film for a little light entertainment. That is all there is.
Recommended prisrob 02-28-09
The Tete & the Moon
Woman on Top
A Good Woman
Wide Sargasso Sea...more info
- Good date movie, but every character talks like Woody Allen
I won't delve into the plot, acting, scenery, editing and everything else that constitutes a movie. Plenty other reviewers do that. This movie didn't have to be believable (the grad student who knows little Spanish and spends no time in the library) or particularly witty (wow, did a character actually use the phrase "turgid argument about the categorical imperative"?)....I was just irritated that every character sounded like Woody Allen! Whiney, self-absorbed, quick to moralize about everything objectionable....could the man get out in the real world and listen to how other people talk? Heck, even reading a book by Richard Price might help him.......more info
- I hate Woody Allen anything
I rented this movie not knowing it was directed by Woody Allen. I will from now on make sure I look at who directed the movies I get. This is an extremely tedious slow moving movie as in the usual style of WA's movies. Painful to watch and listen to, never never never again, if I could have given it a -1 star I sure would have. The only thing that could have made this movie suck anymore would be to have WA's voice over or staring in it himself....more info
- The Whole is Greater than the Part Sum
With Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen has created yet another drop-the-viewer-in-the-middle-of-someone's-life story. I like it.
If nothing else, there's much to love about the setting of the story. I love Barcelona...lot's of fond memories.
But back to the movie. With a cast of strange and engaging characters (though only superficially), it's easy to let the light storyline string you along. The extent to which we come to know each of the characters is limited to the voice over narration of following each. Of the actors, Penelope Cruz was superb, but I love most anything she's in.
Allen doesn't really make any effort to delve into the real implications of the choices each of these people make, but that didn't bother me as such. I felt like I was reading a dime-store pulp book and perhaps it's the guilty pleasure feeling I got from watching this movie that made it so fun in the end....more info
- Penelope steals the show
Thank goodness this movie was set in gorgeous Barcelona and gave us something interesting to look at while suffering through this lame story (it has been too, too long since Allen has told a compelling one). Penelope Cruz out-acted everyone else, stealing every scene she was in and dwarfing the usually wonderful Scarlett Johansson. The best moment in the film was the expressions on Vicky and Cristina's faces as they left Spain. ...more info
- Four Characters and No Funeral
Although this movie has garnered more than its share of rave reviews I confess myself somewhat puzzled. It's a pleasant romp through familiar Woody Allen territory, though thankfully minus Allen himself as the primary protagonist and thankfully not set in Manhattan. There are essentially three human characters in the movie. The first is The Romantic Artist, here incarnated in cliched form as Juan Antonio and his ex-wife Maria Elena. Then comes American Woman, here incarnated not only as the two young American tourists but also as their elder female hostess. Finally comes American Man, uniformly drab and materialistic and rather dim, incarnated as the the male host and the guy from New York whom Vicky will end up marrying and additionally, in case the point wasn't made obviously enough, the male half of a couple that makes a brief over-dinner appearance full of chatter about expensive houses and entertainment systems. The fourth character - if we want to stretch the point just a little - is Barcelona, or at least a tourist's notion of the city-as-backdrop.
Allen's point seems to be that American women are incapable of really engaging with life. Vicky holds life at bay through a series of elaborate quasi-intellectual charades in which she always misses the key point. Christina, who seems more willing to throw herself into the stream of life and let it carry her, in fact always extricates herself at the moment when she'd have to commit to really living. As the movie puts it, "she didn't know what she wanted, but she knew what she didn't want." And finally the hostess is living one of those lives of quiet desperation, too afraid to leave a dead marriage and too afraid to begin an affair. Likewise American Man is the walking dead. Only the Artist - in this case the Spanish binary star of Maria Elena and Juan Antonio - is willing to risk all (health, sanity, relationships) to swim with the currents of life.
This is, however, a fairly humdrum theme around which to try to wrap a movie. Barcelona, which is one of the world's great cities, makes a vague and fleeting appearance from time to time but the air pollution precludes sweeping panoramas and the camera work is so uninspired that the street shots could have been done almost anywhere. The dialog is authentically banal and without great camera work there's little to draw us into the movie and carry us along. The overall issue is that there simply isn't much of interest in the tale of two American female tourists who are so wrapped up in their own neuroses that they utterly fail to be changed by their summer experiences. We already know that Americans are, in general, repressed and that they cling to sterile and restrictive "appropriate" norms in order to navigate the strange world that otherwise might overwhelm them. We already know that people who work in Manhattan are, for the most part, acquisitive empty shells. And frankly few of us will buy Allen's thesis that The Great Artist holds the keys to anything other than a barn full of pretentious canvases.
On the bright side Penelope Cruz does yeoman work as the histrionic Maria Elena and the quite dramatic consumption of cigarettes in the movie must have boosted the share price of at least one tobacco company.
This is an inoffensive but essentially empty movie in which little happens and less is achieved. If this is all Allen has to say after so long, perhaps it's time to head for the Old Moviemakers' Rest Home.
- Good acting, stupid story
I am glad that I saw this movie on a plane and didn't spend good money to see this turkey. I think that what Woodie Allen had to say he said years ago and should be banned from ever making another film. I am a fan of all the actors and they did well with the stupid script the had to work with, but none of the roles were even worth a nomination....more info
- Not Annie Hall but Close....
Even bad Woody Allen is better than almost anyone else's good stuff. He is and has been our only truly world class auteur (ok, Scorsese too). He is quite simply our Ingmar Bergman and as such deserves all the praise he gets and then some.From the low farce and Catskill schtick of Bananas and the Sex comedies through the darkness of Crimes, Hannah and Her Sisters and Manhatten, no one in American cinema has the range of Woody.While I liked Matchpoint I thought it finally a Woody gimmick piece not unlike Purple Rose of Cairo (which I really loved anyway) and Broadway Danny Rose. But this latest piece Vicky Christina Barcelona was truly an exercise in modern existential loneliness and isolation. It isn't so much about Henry James' lost Americans abroad as it is about how none of us can find the happiness we seek even when it is there for the taking. Sartre says, "Each man must undergo his own death" and for all the laughs and romance VCB is finally about the aloneness that is the human condtion and even when we are surrounded by beautiful music and beautiful art we will finally go to the airport in search of the unhappiness we so richly deserve.Hats off Woody and folks rent or buy.....it's a better night than you'll get with the current Hollywood movies about 30 something men playing video games while thinking about the Swim Suit issue. An adult movie for adults. Now that's a concept....more info
- From Barcelona with love!
The first serious filmmaker who paid full attention around the complex feminine world was Ingmar Bergman ("The silence" and "Persona"), but when Robert Bresson threw his hat to arena with Mouchette (1967), we should wait for Francois Truffaut, Luis Bunuel, Lina Wertmuller, Liliana Cavani The Von Trotta sisters, Percy Aldon and Rainer Fassbinder during the seventies and eighties the feminine affections resided in Europe as the main gravity creative center. But since the middle eighties, (since Fassbinder's death) the old continent seemed to have given up as main creative exponent (until the successful arrival of "The scent of green papaya" and "Amelie") and since then only a fist of selected films have dealt with the emotional feminine universe. As a matter of fact, after the extraordinary Robert Van Ackeren's "The woman in flames"(1984), the American cinema has turned its attention around the countless narrative possibilities of this genre. We could cite Norman Jewison's "Moonstruck" (1987), Donald Petrie's "Mystic pizza", (1988), Herbert Ross' "Steel magnolias" (1989), Rob Reiner's "Misery" (1990)", Ridley Scott's "Thelma and Louise" (1991) and " Paul Verhoven "Basic instinct" (1992). But besides, it would be convenient to remark : in South America there were two names of egregious significance: the unforgettable Maria Luisa Bamberg's "Camila", who passed away in 1992 and the Venezuelan Fina Torres (Oriana our maxim awarded film in Cannes). Both of them explored the feminine nostalgia from different perspectives.
Allen has bet again for this distant and European gaze project. The first release was "Match Point". A worthy and honest proposal, that intends to give birth a new and warm breadth to a variegated crowd of commonplaces in his beloved and admired NYC.
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is far to be an original proposal. After having explored the conflictive and tempestuous relation in "Mighty Aphrodite" with Mira Sorvino (who coincidentally won the Academy Award as best Supporting Actress) Woody Allen seems to have been inspired by two almost forgotten Truffaut's films "Two English girls" (1972) and Ken Russell's "Women in love" (1970) and a more recent Romantic comedy starred by Diane Lane, "Under the Tuscan sun (2003)."
So he retells a contemporary amorous quartet. An underground painter (Javier Bardem) (signed by a dark affair with her conflictive couple; Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz)) establishes direct contact with two North American girls the alluring Cristina (Scarlet Johansson) a girl who really knows what she doesn't want, a liberal and free thinker, avid to experience in own flesh the Spanish passion far beyond the architecture and the guitar, a modern Aphrodite and her friend Vicky, the mother Goddess who is committed with her North American fianc®¶e.
This painter is not only a self biographical depiction of his director ; besides epitomizes the ancestral seduction codes and arouses in both of them the mysterious "taste of the forbidden". In last instance, Allen once more, carves in relief the impossibility for reaching the happiness through the love, due every one of us - and specially the complex feminine universe - expects of this feeling. The arresting landscapes work out and invite as silent background in which the relation of power and self destructive possession, the fascination for the exotic and the breakthrough of the quotidian find in Maria Elena, Cristina and Vicky an interesting but unexpected cocktail of unthinkable passions and a web of questions without answers.
The last shot of the film is hardly eloquent. Those missing gazes of both of them talk by themselves.
- Aside from the voiceover, it's a pretty good flick
I do not understand why there is a voiceover narration in this movie. It is distracting. The narrator's voice itself is rather nasal and not at all pleasant on the ears. It seems as if Woody Allen was attempting to emulate the ironic detachment and science-doc parody narrator of the far superior Little Children. He fails. The voiceover is NEVER used appropriately. At times, it actually impairs the performance of the actors. In one scene, for example, it tells us that a character is drunk. When you hire an Oscar winner like Javier Bardem, it seems safe to assume that he can play drunk convincingly, and that we don't need a narrator to tell us this. And if for some reason he can't do it, maybe all the empty wine glasses helpfully supplied by the prop department can clue us in. At other times, the voiceover carries us forward in time, or sets up a scene. A good writer can accomplish that with a few lines of exposition hidden in the dialogue, and a good director can accomplish it with a montage or some nifty editing. If I could ask Woody Allen one question about this movie, it would be why he suddenly felt he wasn't equal to that task, and instead needed this wholly intrusive narrator to do his job for him.
Narration aside, I enjoyed the film. It's just a fun, frothy, frisky romp though the Spanish countryside. The background is even more attractive than the cast. The premise is a little trite and the characters are paper-thin, but it certainly met my entertainment quotient, and my expectations. This in spite of the fact that, as is apparently usual with Woody Allen's DVD releases, there are zero extras.
Oh, and as for that recent Oscar win? Penelope Cruz didn't deserve it. Her performance is all flash -- no substance, and no heart....more info
- ~Vicky Cristina Barcelona~
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is a film by writer/director Woody Allen. This film is a romantic comedy that explores that notion of love; and why love is so difficult to define. Unlike many of Woody Allen's films, this film is less of a comedy and more of an romantic exploration documenting
the personal difficulties that can prevent one from loving deeply and ultimately from finding true love. Can lust,override love and sex? Does any of these three elements(sex, love, lust) weigh more than the other?
The two main characters, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two best friends who come to Barcelona for a summer of exploration and self discovery. Both Vicky and Cristina have two very different views on love. Vicky appeared to be the more stable, predictable, the "low risk" type of women who likes to plan her life out. While Cristina, more impulsive and enjoys the challenges and complexity of love and even craves the drama involved in passionate love affairs. The two women met artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and their
definition of love was soon challenged and perhaps changed.
Vicky, appeared to be the most rational, and was at first reluctant to give into Juan Antonio's Spanish charm. She didn't even appear to want to give him the time of day. However, Vicky became the first of the best friends to become seduced by Juan Antonio's Spanish masculine
charm, more quicker than her best friend Cristina. And despite her reservations which included her being engaged to be married, Vicky ended up having a secret sexual encounter with Juan Antonio. Vicky, overwhelmed
and deeply infatuated with Juan Antonio failed to disclose to Cristina that she had sex with Juan Antonio.
Christina also fell deeply in love with Juan Antonio and moved in with him for the summer. Cristina explored her sexuality with Juan Antonio. Juan Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz), moved into Juan Antonio's home shortly afterwards. The trio had an "open sexual
relationship" and become lovers. Cristina, realized that she enjoyed the love and the sexual intimacy of both a man and woman. This experience taught her more about herself and especially her own expectations of love.
Although, at the end she still had uncertainty about what she truly wanted when it came to love, Cristina, by the end of the summer ended her love affair with Juan Antonio and Maria Elena and once again was in search of what she desired in love.
She knew what she didn't want, but just didn't know what she really wanted when it came to love.
What makes this film interesting is the reflective male narrator who narrates the characters feelings, actions and desires throughout the movie. I was not bothered by this all of the time, but at times I found his narrative rather dry and distracting. The cinematography of the film was good. The overall erotic appeal of the movie could have offered more. There were no nudity in the sex scenes. But there were
definitely some delectable and loving kissing scenes which included loving gestures exchanged between Cristina and Maria Elena during their female on female "love encounters."
If you are a Woody Allen fan you will love this film. I applaud him for being bold enough to make a film that did a great job in exploring love, sex and lust. And in the end it makes one think about which of the three weighs more than the other.
Four Stars Out of Five
Reviewed by Natasha Brooks, editor-in-chief,
Bare Back Magazine
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- Entertaining Movie
I found Vicky Christina Barcelona an entertaining movie with great acting but a very predictable Woody Allen film. If you like Woody Allen movies, which I do, you are more likely to enjoy the movie. It was described to me as a comedy but I actually found it rather sad. It is worth seeing but not outstanding. ...more info
- Woody Allen On Tour
I have been reviewing Woody Allen productions in this space over the past year or so. I have highly rated such old Woody classics as "Annie Hall, "Manhattan" and "Radio Days", those memorable films with New York City its trials, tribulations and traumas as an epicenter. I have also given mixed reviews to some of his later productions like "Manhattan Mystery" and others based in other geographic locales ("Purple Rose Of Cairo", etc.). I was, however, fully prepared to fulsomely praise the film under review, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", after having heard the hype about Penelope Cruz's performance as, Maria Elena, the talented estranged artsy wife of the central male character, Juan Antonia (Javier Bardem), a Spanish avant guarde artist. After viewing the film Ms. Cruz's performance was certainly Oscar-worthy. Nevertheless the overall production falls flat. And here is why.
Woody Allen has created an important cinematic niche for himself as a performer, director, writer and producer in that netherworld of the alienated modern urbanite, especially of distracted women unsure of their place in the world and their ability to navigate it with (or without) a man. The classic examples of such angst and confusion were various film vehicles created for Diane Keaton ("Annie Hall") Mia Farrow ("Broadway Danny Rose", "Stardust Memories") and along the way Woody himself, his doubts and his inhibitions (in about six billion of his films starting with "Take The Money And Run"). Here Woody has gathered the old familiar concerns about sexual inhibitions, the vacuity of upper middle class suburban life, the eternal problems with the opposite sex and various social conventions like bisexuality, adultery, threesomes and the like. All very familiar Woody material, although not always set in Barcelona.
With the above-mentioned exception of Ms. Cruz the other characters are Woody's stock and trade of late: young woman with various personal and social problems, with or without Woody as conduit. The truly beautiful and talented Scarlett Johansson is wooden here as Cristina. The lesser known actress, Rebecca Hall, playing Vicky's role is the same. In the end I did not care whether the two women (or three, if we include Ms. Cruz) got their issues resolved, or not. That is not a good sign in a Woody Allen film where in earlier, better films , if nothing else, we are at least left wondering about their fates. Woody, come back to your New York hearth and home with all its tangled energies, excitement, enigmas and hangups. There you are "king of the hill". Leave Europe for the kids.
- A fairly well-told, but kind of sick, story
Under the veneer of a tale of interwoven relationships, this is an attempt to glorify dysfunctional and self-destructive behavior at the expense of what one of the actors calls "puritanical values". Characters that live a traditional lifestyle are portrayed as empty and vapid, while those engaging in spurious casual relationships are presented as exciting and self-fulfilled. Despite this, things do not go well for the 'wild ones'. My suspicion is that in real life, things would have gone even more badly.
Penelope Cruz does a wonderful acting job as the psychotic ex-wife; Javier Bardem does nearly as well as the contemporary Casanova. I don't get the point of Scarlet Johansson, but maybe that's just me. Bottom line - it kept my attention for the duration, despite 'chick-flicks' not being my usual genre. But the movie itself, like several of its key characters, seemed kind of dysfunctional....more info
- Nice scenery
We usually like Woody Allen. But this movie lacked a point. I would say it was a waste of talent but it was the type of movie that made me wonder if the actors WERE talented. Scarlett Johansson always plays a cool, detached character and she was no different here. She is good to look at but there was no passion. Javier Bardem is an attractive actor but his characters are easy to dislike. And there was no chemistry between most of them. The Americans in this film are all archetypal. Penelope Cruz deserved her award; she added a much-needed spark. But this film went nowhere. And to think I used to be annoyed when English teachers would say, "What is the purpose of this story?"
If one cannot really like ANY of the characters, it is very hard to like a film. I don't like to accuse the truly great Woody Allen of self-indulgence but I think here he needs focus. The photography aspect (Cristina's) could have and should have gone somewhere. I got the feeling that this was an old script, resurrected. It was not, unless it came from the bottom of the writer's trunk, but it was anachronistic.
The scenery was delightful. Wish there had been even more Gaudi.
So I'll give it two stars....more info
I have never written a review... but this movie really made it mandatory to do so... I was surprised at how bad this movie was... I read the reviews and thought I would still give it a chance- after all it had good actors and although the reviews spoke of their bad performances, I thought they were maybe just dull- instead I actually found watching the movie made me feel just awkward and uncomfortable - all the actors except penelope were very jolty and did not fit with in the setting... Originally, I didn't even get what the reviews meant by this, because it is really hard to imagine just how awkward and terrible it is until you watch it for yourself...
I gave this two stars just because at the end of the movie I understood what the plot had tried to accomplish, but I really almost didn't make it past the first 10 minutes-
In the end it was really a waste of time... Do not watch the movie.. not only is the plot dull but I have not seen this awkward of acting since seeing a movie in a bin of free unknown movies from the early 90s ...more info
- Good movie!
I really enjoyed this movie. Interesting story, good acting and great scenery and music. I bought the soundtrack....more info
I had heard many good things about Vicky Cristina Barcelona, that it was Woody Allen's best film in a long time. I also looked forward to seeing more of Rebecca Hall, who was outstanding in Frost/Nixon.
Sadly, the film is very disappointing. The premise is somewhat ridiculous, with two American women in Barcelona being crudely propositioned at a restaurant by a moody Spanish painter with a "past." Soon they're in a private jet with him for a little interlude in a quiet town.
The character Cristina (Scarlett Johannson) is a scatterbrained neurotic who will sleep with anyone who gives her attention, so it's plausible she would fall for the Spaniard's tired line. But it's absolutely incredible that the level-headed, and engaged, Vicky (Hall) would hit the mattress with him. Is Vicky so bored by her one-dimensional husband-to-be that she'll bed a total stranger? Is this a "what happens in Barcelona stays in Barcelona" scenario?
As to Penelope Cruz's performance as the painter's estranged and suicidal-homicidal wife, it's OK, but it's nowhere near the stellar acting of Amy Adams or Viola Davis of Doubt. Both ladies were robbed at Oscar time this year.
- Life in short
Life around Mount Vesuvius before it erupts is very much the same as after - anxious, nervous, normal. The lives in this 2008 Woody Allen film are in many ways reminiscent of a hot and treacherous Italian volcano, alternating between grand, sensual, sleepy, beauty and fierce, explosive, irrational and uncontrollable eruptions.
Two women (Vicky and Cristina), the best of friends, sharing an abundance of common interests except for their impression of love, went on a long summer holiday in their friend Judy's home in Barcelona. Cristina, a sceptic of true love, ever willing to take risks in that regard, was also highly lacking in confidence in her talent as a photographer. Vicky, the steadier friend, engaged to marry Doug, had a conventional view of love. She believed that marriage is the consequence of love. Then they became attracted to Juan Antonio, a Spanish artist divorced from a tempestuous and multi-talented woman, Maria Elena, who keeps going back to him. Vicky, Cristina, and Maria Elena (estranged but no stranger) take turns to find sexual love with Juan Antonio, and Cristina even had a dalliance with Maria Elena. We can attribute the episodes of human exuberance to a combination of Spanish air, Spanish wine, and Spanish guitars; but one suspects that humans everywhere are the same. It is not in the air. It's in us. At the end of summer, Vicky and Cristina return to America. They were in the same positions as they left although Vicky had married Doug in the meantime but that seemed so irrelevant. We could see it in Vicky's eyes when they arrived at the airport back home. Everything on the surface seemed unchanged, even the gunshot wound on Vicky's hand was superficial.
It would only have the mark of general accuracy to describe this film as an existentialist effort. What would be the precise meaning of that? It is like two men agreeing with the statement "What a beautiful day!" The glorious sun would be the same to both of them; the soothing breeze would have been felt by both; and the birdsong enchant them both. Yet how can it be the same beautiful day if it struck the one when he had just got out of love, and the other when he was about to leap into it? Is it honesty or courage that gives us the chance to experience something new, uncomfortable and pleasurable in turn, and ultimately transforming us? That is one question the film invites us to think about. The other is love. Vicky, like most conventional people, believed that marriage is a consequence of love. She discovered on a hot, balmy evening in Barcelona that that was a false premise. It was false because one cannot attribute a consequence to a cause that one cannot know, understand, or even define. Occasionally, one might discover clues to its nature. Juan Antonio described his relationship with Maria Elena thus: "We were meant for each other; we were not meant for each other. It's a contradiction." It applied equally to Vicky and Cristina; and to all of us. Juan Antonio had all the qualities of a libertine and yet we cannot condemn him for it. Was it because all the women saw him as he was and took him as such; and so expose all that lies suppressed in each of us by fear and hypocrisy?
Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano.
- Woody does Almodovar, Sort of
It's nice to see Woody shooting in an exotic setting, but there's little here of Barcelona proper aside from a brief sampling of Gaudi architecture and a scenic street/alleyway. Several scenes appear to be of the Rambla, but they are tight shots, not long shots, so one does not have the full effect. That is not to say that the film is not beautiful. It is simply not an extended, loving portrait of Barcelona. That is somewhat surprising, since the film is part 'Americans Abroad' in the sun, getting into romantic situations they would otherwise avoid and part Almodovar, with passionate lovers fondling one another one moment and shooting at one another the next. The 'Americans Abroad' theme dominates. Its separate scenes are linked by an ongoing voiceover which I found to be intrusive and inauthentic. The film comes alive when Penelope Cruz enters, but the film lacks the exquisite script, urgency and momentum that one expects from Almodovar. Sorry, as Simon Cowell would say, but this was slow, very slow....more info
- M®¶s que un higado feo
What an insufferable film from an equally insufferable director. Woody Allen has lost whatever humor and cultural significance that he may have once had, if only tenuously. Barcelona, the city and its spirit, are reduced to a Let's Go postcard under his care. Not comical, not provocative, aesthetically conventional, the film essentially smears Europe's most beautiful "ciutat." Let us count its many oozing blemishes: a flat and not effectively ironic narrator (the technique and voice nauseate), a pervasive neurotic New Yaakness (ie. Allen's tired aura) which infects all the actors, including Bardem, and the now tiresome comparison of bohemian and bourgeois values. The actors don't have the humor or presence to hold up such a trite plot. Unintentionally, we Americans, represented here by some truly abyssmal acting, are once again seen as uniformly banal. The scene in which Johannson kvetches ad nauseum on the plane trip back from Oviedo is truly painful. The one saving grace is Penelope Cruz. With a matador's stare she jabs her nymphfetish "guapa" rival, played by Johannson, who can mutter just one foreign phrase, in Chinese: "You think that sounds pretty?" In customary form Cruz sizzles, her hair dishevelled in a tangle of black, a cigarette dangling precariously from lips that speak without speaking. She's the only thing worth watching in this disaster, save the architecture and light of the Catalan capital. ...more info