Is it just me or is Woody Allen’s latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona a tepid bowl of Match Point leftovers, which wasn’t that good to start with ? I admit I was in a bad mood when I started this film and it didn’t improve as Woody’s fantasy sex-life took over. I concede you would be hard pressed not to like at least Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz or Javier Bardem were they to make a move on you (or all 3 at once), and to finish off with Rebecca Hall for dessert, but really. Come on Woody. Challenge us! Give a story to care about.
Two American friends, Vicky (Hall) and Cristina (Johansson) get away from it all in Barcelona. For Vicky who is writing a thesis on Catalonian culture it is a chance to experience Barcelona first hand : Gaudi’s church, the cobblestone streets, the old carousel, the hidden jewel of Oviedo. What a mysterious place to visit, experience romance and fall in love. For Cristina, she is running away from the pressure of everyday life although as we witness, life can be just as complicated in Spain as in New York and towards the end, she runs off to France. I wonder if life is any different there?
The women meet Juan Antonio (Bardem) who oozes charm and has these girls spinning circles within no time. He speaks with reverence and love about his ex-wife, Maria Elena (Cruz) who is both alluring and dangerous all at once. Thank goodness she turns up. Cruz brings energy, passion and fury to this story and keeps it going. Going that is until Woody capitulates to his fantasies and the actors are forced into the quality of Debbie Does Dallas.
I think Woody is trying to tell us that life is what you make it : the good, the bad, what you do as much as what you don’t do. As one character says, “I’m looking for a magical solution [to my life].” Good luck. I stopped caring.
1 out of 5.