It is said that Woody Allen’s films are alluring with witty dialogues, intriguing characters, and a peek into Woody Allen’s self-mediating process as he wrote all of his films, and he uses them as a self-mediating process. Forty or so films, I admit that I haven’t seen much of them but I’ve seen his last five films (since Melinda and Melinda), and if anything, Vicky Cristina Barcelona rests easy just a little behind Match Point in this last five films list.
Vicky and Cristina are two best friends about to spend their summer in Barcelona. Vicky is majoring in “Catalan studies” and was on her way to Barcelona to do some research for her thesis while Vicky is looking for something she wants, which she doesn’t really know, and soak in the change of scenery. They were hosted by Vicky’s relatives, Judy and Mark and on one night, the friends met Juan Antonio, an abstract painter and promptly the frank offer was handed to the friends by Juan Antonio of a sight-seeing, meals, and sex in Ordeo. Cristina, who was the more impulsive, and more adventurous of the two willingly accepts the frank offer while Vicky, who values stable relationships and engaged to marry Doug back in New York astounded and reprimanded the offer. Of course, we won’t have any story to tell if the girls weren’t going to Ordeo, right?. So, shortly, the drama follows the three, and soon a fourth element to the story, Juan Antonio’s ex-wife, Maria Elena was introduced.
Perhaps atypical to Woody Allen’s films, there’s actually no impending conflict in the film. The film acts merely as a vessel for us to observe the relationships between its various characters and unless you’re interested in such a voyeurism activity, this film won’t appeal much to you.
As such, the film requires a solid performance driven by pitch perfect dialogue and based on these two facts, I’ve got no complaint whatsoever with all the casts. Penelope Cruz, with her suppressed sexuality delivers as one deranged Maria Elena. I loved her and she manages to convince me that she was indeed a troubled artist, a deranged person bordering on insanity when it comes to relationships. Javier Bardem is also did a great job as Juan Antonio. He oozes charm and personality very convincing to necessarily lure two beautiful American tourists to fall over him. Rebecca Hall is astounding for Vicky, her questioning and troubled values are so heartfelt its impossible to ignore. Scarlett Johansson is well, mediocre, but good enough as free spirited and impulsive Cristina.
Sets in picturesque Barcelona, the film was beautifully executed. If one gets bored with how the film progressed, simply soak in the sights and sounds which proved to provide an adequate compliment necessary to strengthen the experience or avert the boredom that might occurred during the ninety-minutes of “talkie talkie” film as many would undoubtedly puts this film into.
One more caveat, in enjoying movies, I tend to prefer shown than told. Therefore, the use of voice-overs usually put me off. But in the case of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, somehow I could take being told most of the time as the voice-over is actually pretty good and able to invite a smile from yours truly here.
My rating: *** / **** Your usual Woody Allen, perhaps? A probably good example on story-telling that takes one small premise, one observation toward love, sex, and relationship into an enjoying tell-tale with a backdrop of gorgeous Barcelona.