Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Movies, Drama
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Watching Woody Allen’s annual offering is a kind of ritual, like a trip to the dentist—and over the past decade, the pain level has been alarmingly high. From the quaintness of the DreamWorks period (Anything Else, in which Jason Biggs was in therapy with a “strict Freudian”) to Allen’s supposed rejuvenation in London (the fusty Match Point, with a view of class that began moldering sometime around the publication of Bleak House), the movies have offered little evidence that the once-great director lives in the Information Age, much less reads his own reviews.

So to say Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Allen’s best film in 12 years is faint praise. (That just suggests it doesn’t make you want to crawl under your seat in shame.) But there it is: the pacing, the timing, the jokes. Unlike any of the British films, this story of two Americans in Barcelona—soon-to-be-married Vicky (Hall) and free-spirited Cristina (Johansson)—makes tourism part of its subject, and the Europhilia becomes a source of humor. The two women enjoy flings with an impossibly smooth Spanish artist (Bardem, whose comic poise in seducing them should be studied and replicated), his own situation complicated by feelings for his nutty ex (Cruz, who has a personal triumph here). As usual, Allen belabors an obvious theme—passion versus satisfaction—but for a change, even the peripheral material, like the scenes involving Bardem’s spiteful poet father, has real bite. Minor Allen, the movie is nevertheless cause for hope for those who insist on returning every year.



Release details

Release date:
Friday August 15 2008
99 mins

Cast and crew

Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Javier Bardem
Patricia Clarkson
Penélope Cruz
Rebecca Hall
Scarlett Johansson
Chris Messina
Kevin Dunn

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