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  • Although this film has bizarrely been described as breezy summer entertainment by some top critics (which leads me to wonder if they saw the same movie I did, or just the first half hour), "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is the closest thing to the sort of examination of relationships that Allen became famous for in quite some time ("Anything Else" counts, I suppose, but lacks the sharpness this film has), and although it is far from as weighty as some of his dramas or even some of his comedies, this is his first really inspired script in a while, featuring a cast of detailed, well-developed characters, some razor-sharp observations on relationships, and a wicked sense of humor.

    Although I never thought Woody's work this decade was particularly poor (other than "Cassandra's Dream" and although I'm in a minority "Match Point"), it has mostly been completely inconsequential and almost entirely dependent on broad characterizations and heavy plotting rather than real people and awkwardly comic situations (which has always been Allen's strong suit). A career-best performance from Scarlett Johansson, a wickedly entertaining turn from Penelope Cruz, and the absolute revelation that is Rebecca Hall form a great cast along with Javier Bardem in a role that may surprise the majority of the American public (well, for most of the movie, anyway). You can feel Allen's mark on their mannerisms, but they all seem to disappear into these characters, that's how good they are.

    I'm keeping this as spoiler-free as possible, because it's really worth going into the theater not expecting anything in particular and savoring the film's often unexpected but never contrived plot twists and turns. All you should know is that Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) go to Barcelona for the summer and things get complicated when they meet a charming, mysterious, and rich painter (Javier Bardem) and he makes a rather upfront proposition to both of them. It's best if you know nothing of how Cruz' character impacts the film prior to watching it.

    In relation to Allen's other work I thought it was interesting that he never attempted to analyze sex. The whole movie is in many ways about sex, and there is a lot of the expected philosophical and psychological examination of the relationships between the characters in the film, but sex itself is never analyzed as it is in much of Allen's work, and is instead treated as the impenetrable mystery it is. That said, Allen's script is extraordinarily nuanced, something that I haven't expected from his writing in a while. Sure, the characters still represent opposing romantic philosophies, but there's a spark in the writing that makes these feel like real people as opposed to mere characters. That spark, that chemistry is there throughout "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", it's there in the vibrant cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe, it's there in the performances, it's there in the shot composition, and it's there in the editing, and in pretty much anything else I haven't mentioned yet.

    The first forty minutes or so of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" may be the sort of romantic comedy (very good romantic comedy, at that) that the advertising campaign seems to suggest it is, but for the rest of the film there's the sort of pessimistic optimism that colors much of Allen's work (if that makes sense, pretend you didn't read it if it didn't), and let's just say it doesn't end well for these characters. There's real complexity and intensity in this film, and all I have to say is this: Woody Allen is back, the perceptive, intelligent examiner of the human heart, that is, not what we've had for the past while. To say this is one of his best films would be ignoring the fact that through the 70's and 80's he pretty much made nothing but great films, but I can at least say that this is on par with some of his better work.

  • Vicky (a neurotic and sexy Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (a neurotic and gorgeous Scarlett Johansson) are two American tourists in Spain examining their differing views on love in Woody Allen's breezy and alluring "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Amidst a tempestuous summer in Barcelona, the ladies are both seduced by a free-thinking painter (a perfect Javier Bardem) whose own life is complicated by his still passionate relationship with his ex-wife (a devastating Penelope Cruz, who has never looked more beautiful).

    Much like the change from New York City to London invigorated Allen in "Match Point", this vacation to Spain has revived some of the director's more artistic aspirations. The scenery is postcard perfect but drenched in that same dizzying lushness that made Allen's view of NYC so intoxicating in "Manhattan". The churches, the homes, the art museums, the countryside, the intimate city streets and touristy details make you feel like you are visiting Barcelona along with Allen and his cast.

    There's also sharpness to the trademark Woody dialog that has been missing for quite some time. Like all of Allen films, this one is endlessly talky, but there's some great subversion when certain lines that seem like throw-aways actually pack a punch when given a second thought. When Bardem first attempts to talk Johansson's character into bed, he says something clichéd about her being hard to please. Quick witted, Johansson replies, "I'm famous for my intolerance." She says it casually, but it packs a bite as it's the complete antithesis of her character's outward desire to be someone who rallies against cultural norms, and she presents herself as someone who is easy-going and tolerant of all.

    Allen also displays a keen sense of pacing when he creates tension in his build up to Cruz's appearance after her character is endlessly talked about but never seen until about half way through the film. When Cruz finally arrives, her moody whirling dervish of a performance is the perfect spice to liven up the soupy proceedings. Her seething, fiery line readings combined with looks that could kill make her the front-runner for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars.

    The baseline archetypal characters are essentially clichéd, but the way in which Allen handles all of their interpersonal relationships is fairly sophisticated and entertaining even when it grows absurd. There is of course that kiss between Scarlett and Penelope but also some moments of Lynchian-lite when Allen photographs the brunette Hall and blonde Johansson similarly to make them seem like they are two sides of the same woman. There's even more weirdness when die-hard Woody fans realize that in some perverse way Scarlett Johansson's character is the "Woody" part--as in any film he does not star, there is always one character who represents the part he would've played had he been in it. However, film buffs will enjoy some of the nice touches like when Hall and another go to see Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" (one of my all time favorite films) or the repetitive use of a Spanish guitar in the soundtrack whenever Bardem and Hall get together. But then there's the mostly unnecessary voice-over narration that fills in expository gaps and shows Allen can still be a lazy tactician.

    Woody Allen has always been an acquired taste, even more so in his latter years when he sometimes forgets how to provoke, but his fans should be delighted with this latest European flavored effort. In the end, you'll feel like Javier Bardem is the luckiest man in the world, Penelope Cruz is operating at the echelon of her appeal, and Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson, well, they'll always have Barcelona.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There were three things that bothered me about this movie. 1) Woody Allen, whose controversial relationships are well-documented, has created a movie promoting a judgment free world where people should do as they please with their relationships. Nothing wrong with that, but why does he need to put down conventional lives and relationships in order to do so? He mocks conventional life styles as mundane and torturous. Two male characters are negatively portrayed because of their huge sin: being boring (gasp!). You would think that a man whose movies are found to be boring by 95% of the population would be sensitive towards that label.

    2) The writing when it comes to the characters. They all talk the same, use the same vocabulary, and posses the same wit. Maybe for New York intellectuals who only hang around each other that might be the case, but for the rest of the world, that's not the case and it makes for a rather unrealistic movie. Take the character of Juan Antonio as an example. When he introduces himself, he struggles with his English and fumbles for the right words, then two sentences later, he uses the word "subterfuge". What foreigner do you know who struggles with the English language and who also use that word? What native English speakers do you known who uses that word? Again, this is because all the characters are written to speak the same.

    3) The story. At the end of the movie, all of the characters are exactly at the same place they were at the beginning of the movie. You could argue that Vicki's character views her life differently, but yet she's still following the same actions she did at the beginning. In essence, you just wasted your time watching this movie, for all of the weaving the story tries to do, in the end, you are back to where you started.

    The cinematography was nice, but outside of that, not a good movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Vicky Christina Barcelona may be the laziest movie I have ever seen. Not necessarily the worst movie ever, but I don't think I have ever seen so many talented people put in so little effort (with the exception of Penelope Cruz). I mean, I fully understand why Woody Allen would want to spend several weeks in Barcelona with three beautiful women, but I don't know why he bothered to put film in the camera and call it a movie.

    The central hope of the movie is that constant references to Gaudi, Miro, and how Vicky is getting her masters in Catalan identity (BTW, if you Google "masters in Catalan identity" EVERY result is about this movie, which tells you how bogus that is) will distract you from the fact that this movie basically recycles the two most tired clichés of late-nineties soft-core porn: Sexually conservative woman meets a tall, dark stranger who makes her question her life AND sexually adventuresome woman meets a tall, dark stranger who helps her experience increasingly exotic thrills including (gasp!) lesbianism. Strangely these two plots never really intersect, which is particularly odd since the tall, dark stranger is the same for both of them.

    Other than the pretty Tourist Board shots of Barcelona, the main dramatic thrust of the movie is how Vicky thought she had her life planned out, but a tryst with the exotic Spaniard has made her question everything. How do we know this? Because Vicky actually says things like "I thought I had my life planned out, but…" And not just once, but she says it to the Spaniard, she says it to Patricia Clarkson, and she says it to a classmate from her language class, who is introduced for the sole purpose of giving Vicky one more person that she can tell. Oh, and in case you still missed it, there is a ludicrously intrusive narrator who explains it all to you again and again. Why is Vicky suddenly dissatisfied with her entire existence after one quick roll in the grass with the Spaniard? No real reason is ever given, other than that the rule of the cliché is that intelligent American women are all sexually repressed with boorish husbands.

    I'm sure that the stilted dialog is meant to make it feel "theatrical" and the oppressively obvious and distracting narrator is meant to be ironic (like the Greek Chorus in Mighty Aphrodite), but without any real plot, characters, or motivations, it just adds to the sensation that you're trapped for ninety minutes while someone tells you about a mediocre movie they once saw.
  • jrwygant4 October 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Vicky Christina Barcelona" will be praised by the few remaining Woody Allen fans and condemned by the rest of us, whose model for drama is derived from classic Greek theater. The demands for statement of circumstance, a crescendo of conflict rising to a crisis, a resolution of the crisis, and a brief concluding summary are missing from VCB. The convention of character change -- Othello changing into a wife murderer, Hamlet deteriorating into madness, Scout's discovery of important life values in "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- is also missing. The usual expectation that minor characters are introduced into a story if they have some purpose, is ignored. And of course, the common convention of a plot, as opposed to a vignette, is nowhere on the horizon. The extensive use of anonymous voice-over narration does not salvage this wreck and only leaves the audience annoyed and patronized.

    It is worth speculating that if someone else had proposed to make this same movie, someone previously unknown, it never would have gotten financed.

    Vicky and Christina are not believable from their first introduction. That the stiff and conservative Vicky would have traveled to a foreign country with the impulsive and directionless Christina to spend two months together is inconceivable. Given that the initial premise fails, the rest is an embarrassing exploration of an old man's fantasy about two young women.

    At one point Vicky meets a young man in a language class, another possible diversion for her. Although he seems dramatically interesting, he disappears after his one brief scene. His exchange with Vicky adds nothing to her self-awareness or any other aspect of the movie. The scene could have been cut entirely with no consequence except elimination of any expectation in the audience that the young man might have some purpose in the film.

    When the endless display of self-descriptions by each of the characters becomes tiresome to all, including the characters, we experience a classic "deus ex machina." Maria Elena is dropped into the little that remains and fires off a few sobering rounds.

    The movie ends pretty much where it began. Vicky is the same Vicky, conservative, now married, willing to make the same compromises she has always made. Christina is still floundering around trying to discover herself. Whose movie was this? Was it Vicky's or Christina's? In the end neither of them holds our interest.
  • I just got back from a free screening of this movie. Wonderful, brilliant, thought provoking, funny, great story in the way only Woody Allen could do. The acting was great, the writing was great, the story was great. As well as the fact that it wasn't a poor rehash of Crimes and Misdemeanors like Match Point and Cassandra's Dream. So refreshing on all levels. Javier Bardem embodies the character and truly allows me to forget about his role in Old Country. Patricia Clarkson, a gem as always. The girls were all great. Had not been impressed with Scarlett Johansson since Lost in Translation and was bored with her work in the last of his films but she held her own and did the part great. Penélope Cruz was wonderful, vibrate and funny especially when doing the Spanish. At 71 the man still has it and has rehashed the place in my heart where I hold his wonderful art. Simply happy and fulfilled. Thank you Woody!
  • Barcelona is recognizable enough and exotic enough to frame the latest complication from Woody Allen. Allen himself claims to care very little about films. He doesn't consider them the center of his life. Strange, because I do, Woody Allen without his films is...well I don't know who or what he is. Here he ventures again outside New York in a shape and form that reminded me a little bit of Jacques Rivette. Scarlet Johansson and Rebecca Hall, as the blond and the brunette of the title, make a great pair of opposites or seemingly so. Javier Bardem is the artist that comes to ruffle their world and the spectacular Penelope Cruz (getting better and better with every movie) is the hysterical side of the artist's past. We spend a great deal of time sitting at tables eating and drinking while a voice over guide us through their physical and emotional journey. I was delighted, entertained ever aroused. Woody Allen keeps surprising and he's got it whether he cares about it or not.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    To be true, I really enjoy Woddy Allen's work. When I heard that this film was on making the first thing I thought was «gotta see it». And to be sincere too, I was very disappointed for the results.

    Even only lasting an hour and a half it felt very long. None of the action is plausible, none of the interpretations are convincing and none of the characters are fully developed. The soundtrack keeps going most of the film and it becomes so noisy that goes from interesting to a nuisance. I am sorry to bash the film this way but the script felt so childish as it was written by a teenager in love. There is no really turn-over in the history, no surprises, nothing new under the sun. The darkroom scenes were some kind of fan-service, the bed scene with Scarlett was lengthy and poor and character of Vicky feels mostly dull.

    The film would have left me a better taste if at least Maria Elena seemed truly mad: when Cristina tells them she is leaving Maria's reaction goes down to sadness because a sexual lose. What comes to the spectator's mind is «this is wrong, it seems that Woddy Allen just wanted to film these to women, not to make a film». In a word, this film feels like a high school project more than multimillion production.

    I cannot really understand what all these eight-star reviewers feel for it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all i would like to say that I'm a big fan of the old woody Allen , i mean the great director/writer woody Allen , who created in over thirty years in the business some of the most romantic , funny . dramatic , masterpieces that shined in Hollywood starting from Annie Hall , to Hannah and her sisters , Mighty Aphrodite , and last but not least Sweet and lowdown . But the new woody Allen has produced many unbalanced , mildly funny , and romantically dead movies such as Melinda and Melinda which was acceptable , but not a woody Allen material , Hollywood Ending which wasn't so bad as well but wasn't good either , and this year his latest film came out and i had mixed feeling about it , i was frightened that another disappointing movie from the master Allen could destroy my love to his earlier masterpieces , and unfortunately , it was even more disappointing than i could ever imagine .

    The movie's basic concept is actually more similar to a combination of Baywatch and Desperate housewives , but apparently with higher level of acting . It's about two amazingly beautiful women Vicky (Rebecca hall) the committed ,engaged , and somehow mature woman who chose Barcelona to get her masters degree in Catalan Identity , and Cristina(Scarlett Johansson) , the spontaneous , free spirited , less mature who came to Barcelona in a self finding journey . Vicky and Cristina Meet Juan Antonie the passionate painter who suffers after a bad split from his girlfriend Marie Elena who tried to kill , Juan Antonia has an affair with Vicky, before he gets involved in a relationship with Cristina , then Marie Elena comes back in the picture and lives with Cristina and Juan Antonia , after she tried to kill herself . However i can't see the whole point of the movie , and as i said before the movie is an odd combination of Baywatch and desperate housewives ,because so many affairs happen during it's kind of short length , and it's basically about good-looking people showing off on screen with good acting skills , but no real sense of the movie . but Despite that Penelope Cruz managed to catch the eye with a very good performance that actually was the most and only beautiful thing in the movie .

    In The end i really hope that Woody Allen comes back to what he did before making great movies and entertaining , and making millions of people all around the globe laugh .
  • Vicky Christina Barcelona isn't quite the work of genius that several critics are making it out to be, but it is Woody Allen's most solid film in nearly a decade and by far his sexiest.

    I will admit that the claims that it's his best movie in 20 years may have raised my expectations unfairly. After all, the past two decades has brought us Sweet and Lowdown (inspired Sean Penn and Samantha Morton), Another Woman (inspired Gena Rowlands), Husbands and Wives (inspired Judy Davis), Bullets Over Broadway ("Don't Speak!") and what, in my humble opinion, is his most extraordinary film ever: Crimes and Misdemeanors.

    That said, there is much in the film's Plus Column. Bardem has never been sexier in English. Rebecca Hall is a sublime revelation. Scarlett Johansson does her most consistent and least grating work since Girl With the Pearl Earring. The supporting cast is a treasure trove of great character actors: Kevin Dunn (usually but effectively charmless), Chris Messina (a complicated mix of sexy and dull), Pablo Schreiber (virtually a cameo), and Patricia Clarkson (earthy, tragic and terrific as always).

    And then there's Penelope Cruz. Incapable of wrong-doing in my eyes since All About My Mother, she is everything you've heard she is. At first, the character appears to be another version of Rahda Mitchell's bad Melinda only dark and Spanish. But she evolves and blossoms, like a mushroom cloud in slow motion.

    The story is simple and the structure is a bit unwieldy. As a result, the film feels longer than it is and while it does saunter, it's never boring. The screenplay seems more concerned with re-arranging the configurations of lovers and exploring its themes than it does with sustaining the dramatic tension.

    The films only significant, though ultimately not fatal, flaw is Miss Johansson. For the legions who thought Javier Bardem could generate romantic and sexual chemistry with anyone or anything, well, I have bad news. When she is sharing the screen with both Bardem and Cruz, Johansson's limitations as an actor and as a screen presence.

    Ultimately, though, Vicky Christina Barcelona is still a worthwhile endeavor. An enjoyable romp filled the requisite angst and passion of Woody Allen's better efforts. Best of all, there's Spain and Barcelona. The landscapes, people and architecture provide even more spectacular real estate porn than Melinda & Melinda. Not only does it make you want to go to Barcelona, it will make you feel like you've lived there and loved it.

    Despite its unevenness,
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Some have commented about the use of a narrator. Yes, that was lazy and intrusive, but not nearly the worst part of this boring mess of a film. And I wouldn't care if Woody Allen wasn't the director and writer - at this point I just watch films for what they are, not who was involved in making them. I found myself trying to stay awake while watching it, but when it had my full attention, I found myself amazed at the flimsiness being presented. Boring, self-indulgent people walking around a beautiful city, not knowing what they really wanted out of life, not really interested in anyone or anything else, except for what it meant to themselves.

    And yes, Johansson's performance was quite bad, as others have mentioned, but it actually was consistent with the tone of the film, if that's in any way a "positive." There was a turning point, however, which I thought might save the film, at least to some degree, and that occurred when the Johansson character decided she no longer wanted to be in the menage a trois situation. When the viewer isn't given any reason for this decision, I had to laugh, because that was the final confirmation of my thoughts up to that point. Like Johansson, the paintings, which were just AbEx rip-offs, reflected the lack of overall depth the viewer is compelled to endure.

    These are just unappealing, narcissistic people I would not want to know. Their only goals in life concern self satisfaction, and the viewer isn't even given a reason why this is the case. Is it that Woody himself is now like this and assumes everyone else in the world is? That's really the only somewhat interesting thing that I took from this film. Unlike in some of his early films, there is no sardonic wit here, or anything else that would allow us to find something special about this. If someone else had given us this film, especially if it was a young person, I'd think that this person had a lot of "growing up" to do. The people in this film are the kind of bit-part characters that the main characters in Woody's best films would make fun of !
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona is among the cream of the Woody Allen crop, in the midst of Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters and Match Point. It may even be a wiser film than any of them. What Woody has done throughout his film career is seek the answers to his own life questions in any number of ways. Some later films contradict the philosophical implications of previous ones. Some reaffirm them. His foremost theme has always been the complications of love and sex, and this ultimately genre-less film that I suppose could be considered a romantic seriocomedy may be his magnum opus of his sexual and romantic revelations.

    Vicky, played by Rebecca Hall, and Cristina, by Scarlet Johansson, go to Barcelona for the summer, settling with Vicky's distant relative (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband. A Narrator, present all through the film, the particular matter-of-fact likes of which Allen has never before used, illustrates the two friends: Vicky is no-nonsense and conservative in her attitude toward love and commitment, engaged to the dependable but less than passionate yuppie. She is in Barcelona getting her masters, and is deeply stirred by Spanish guitar. Cristina, in contrast, is impulsive and irresolute of what she wants in life. She is just out of a relationship and wants to forget about her experience making a short film about Love, perhaps a nod to Woody's own admitted negative reflections on his previous works.

    At an art exhibition, these two symbolically contrasting women observe a notorious painter, played with suavity and charisma by Javier Bardem. Cristina is immediately fascinated with him, and grows captivated when she and Vicky learn that he has undergone a violent relationship with his ex-wife. Later, the girls spot him in a restaurant, where he stoically approaches their table and unexpectedly invites them to go along with him to Oviedo, where they will tour, wine, dine and, with any luck, make love. Straight away Cristina consents, Vicky refuses, but Vicky is is ultimately persuaded and the twosome go with the self- designed artistic and drifting romantic on a small private plane through a rainstorm.

    What follows is a free-flowing rectangle of romance with any combination of Bardem, Vicky, Cristina, and Bardem's unmanageably volatile ex-wife Penelope Cruz, who deserves an Oscar nomination for her work here. There are many ways in which the two American women change for the better and change not at all. One facet of the story is a clash of conventional American and liberated European cultures. Another is spiritual freedom, signified by Vicky's conventional reticence and thus conflicted feelings that she may be missing out on so much, and Cristina's mutability. A lesser title for the movie but an apt one nonetheless could have been Why Not?

    Woody is expressing through his characters his urge to be free of all psychological and emotional restrictions. In any case, characters as open as Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem's seem to need similarly adaptable significant others. I find it interesting that Louise Lasser, Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, Woody's women, all brought out their inner nebbishes due to intimate involvement with him, as in his eagerness to lift a lover's state of mind, he ends up, sooner or later, virtually turning his woman roughly into a female version of himself. Johansson and Hall's summer in Spain, if anything, releases them from the sludge of mediocrity, particularly that which results from fear and common custom.

    By saying all that, I have not even come close to giving anything away. The way things turn out would hardly make sense to characters like Vicky, or her fiancé, and that is what makes it a natural flow from the heart. Woody Allen's brilliantly written, guilelessly directed and convincingly acted Spanish debut-and-swan song is not a comedy for the same reasons as nearly every other comedy Woody has made. It is a comedy essentially because of the culture clash. The film depends on our reactions to things that really are not inherently funny except to unaccustomed eyes. Likewise, the bewildered Americans are just as funny from the other side of the gamut. Without any doubt in my mind, this is not only Woody Allen's best film in years, but one of his very best of his entire 42-film, 42-year career as a writer-director of consistently good films.
  • Everyone acts very well, and the whole film would have been really good if it hadn't been for this weird narrator the whole way through who sounded like he was telling children a story even when saying things like "they went to bed together". It was weird. I also feel if it had been more dialogue based we could have got a greater grasp of the characters. I watched it without subtitles but understood the relationship of Juan Antonio and his ex-wife (mostly spoken in Spanish) than I did of Doug and Vicky which just seemed to lack a huge amount of depth. There needed to be some redeeming feature Vicky and Doug's relationship.

    Anyway well acted but yeah the narrator ruins it. Javier Bardem is amazing as usual.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The problem with VCB is that, about half-way into the movie, we are presented with such an over the top, unrealistic scenario, that the only people that could possibly buy it are people that have no experience dealing with real women in the real world. This scenario begins the moment that Javier brings his mentally ailing ex-wife Maria into his house, which he already shares for the time being with current girlfriend Cristina. Cristina is somewhat perplexed. Javier explains that Maria will have to stay with them for a little while. How long? Javier explains, "a few...months". Believe it or not, Cristina, though intitally frustrated and angry, accepts the arrangement.

    Keep in mind, these are not rednecks from a trailer park in Alablama. Cristina is not an inbred hillbilly, nor is she suffering from any kind of apparent neurotic low self-esteem or psychosis. She is presented in the movie as an intelligent, cultured, incredibly attractive woman. So I ask Mr. Allen, in all seriousness, what woman has he ever known...what woman has any of us known, that would not have immediately walked out that door and never come back once Maria was brought into that house to stay for two months.

    So this is the main problem with this film, it's not a problem of morality or "liberalism" or anything else of that nature. It's assumed any fan of Allen's who has walked into this movie has at least somewhat of an open mind. The problem is one of realism. (and by the way, since the movie is not particularly funny, we cannot accept the movie on those terms either). The normally socially conservative, committed Vicky sleeping with Javier in a moment of abandoned passion is realistic....Cristina agreeing to Javier's crazy ex-wife staying with them, and then even forming a sexual tryst with the two of them isn't realistic, it's what a psychotic person does. The movie surrounds this ridiculous set up with gorgeous scenery and skilled actors, but it doesn't help. All we can do is accept that fact that this is strictly male masturbational fantasy from a once skilled director and writer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Throughout the years I've become less interested in Woody Allen's work and if this is his worst film I quite hope it is. I wouldn't have remembered about it, if it wasn't for a phone conversation I had with a friend short after I saw the film (Vicky Cristina Barcelona was on ARTE France/Germany). The beginning of the movie is a bit bland and uninspiring, but good enough in the middle of a boring evening. So I think: – it's about time you watch a Woody Allen film again! A male narrator voice explains the events on the screen in terse sentences; as I continue to watch I become more intrigued, and halfway though I even forgive the lousy tourist ride around Barcelona (thou I never was in Barcelona, the film doesn't tell me anything I already know about the city). I remain motionless seated on the couch with my eyes open (longing for a change of scenery), in case there's more to it. And then suddenly -it- happens! Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz) holding a gun (imitating Allen's neurotic gimmicks) tries to blast away her love Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem)... what? do I hear the narrator voice again? oh, the blow of mercy – yes, the narrator's voice comes on again and announces with pathetic contrivance that Vicky (Rebecca Hall) returns home to have her grand wedding to Doug (Chris Messina)... Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) continues searching... maybe Allen just had enough and needed an easy way out to end the movie. Mr. Woody Allen, I'll go to your movies, but you'll have to seduce me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've mostly stayed away from Woody Allen movies from the last 20 years because my few forays into things he's done in that time (Anything Else, Manhattan Murder Mystery) were not pleasant. Add Vicky Cristina Barcelona to the pile of unpleasantness. This movie is bad. I can't understand the folks who raved about it and gave it a 10.

    What parts of this movie could have possibly warranted a 10?

    • The boring narration that repeats the action we've just seen or are about to see?

    • The stilted dialogue of Rebecca Hall in the scene where she first meets Javier Bardem and acts exactly like Woody Allen? Woody should have been sitting in that scene!!

    • Any scenes featuring the stereotypical boyfriend of Rebecca Hall?

    I'm giving this movie a 2, and that's because I'm giving 1 point for the arrival of Penelope Cruz, who first appears in the movie at 1 hour and 14 minutes into it. I know it took that long for her to appear because I checked the time on the screen. Her appearance completely wiped away anything that happened before in the film. Thankfully!! (Maybe that accounts for the high marks!?!?) This movie would have been better served if all of Scarlet Johansen's screen time was given to Penelope Cruz. But then we wouldn't have seen the kiss between these two, which accounts for the other point I'm issuing. Penelope is the only reason to watch this movie, but it's not enough to compensate for the crud around it. Javier Bardem was good, but I can't give this movie more than a 2, so I'll make it up to him elsewhere.

    For young folks out there who've heard Woody Allen's name and have wondered about his movies, please stick to things like Hannah and Her Sisters and all of the other movies he made before that time. Those are wonderful. The dark ones, as well as the early funny ones if you know what I mean!! The stuff he's been churning out robotically in the past 20 plus years are mostly dreadful. It's sad, really, what's happened to Woody. Can't he just go away? I use to feel sad when I read about a writer or director who hasn't made a movie in many years and I wondered why they went away, or how enjoyable it would be to see them again. But like an athlete, creativity has a lifespan, with peaks and valleys along the way until the eventual final decline. The artists who stopped making movies once their artistry declined were smart. I'm sorry to say that Woody's final decline happened many years ago.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When will Woody Allen get over his ridiculous obsession with the pretentious rich? It used to be that he wrote for the masses, albeit the educated, urbane masses. So maybe he just needs to get back to his New York roots (again), but for the love of Gene Shalit, could he please stop turning in such bland crap? Does anyone else remember when Allen had a real knack for snappy dialog? For characters who seemed as real as the veins on your hand? When his movies were clever, not predictable? When each movie contained a rich, vibrant atmosphere that drew from both negative and positive aspects of The Big Apple? Or did I dream about all of those movies? Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a big dud. It's about a love/lust pentagon that involves titular friends (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johannson), on vacation in the titular town, who encounter Bohemian painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). But Vicky's engaged to a sanctimonious tool (Chris Messina), and then Juan Antonio's unstable ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) shows up as well. And it being Spain, everyone's got lust on the brain, and there's plenty of partner swapping.

    To begin with, the movie's far too talky. True, many of Allen's early movies were just as reliant on dialog, but in those cases - I'm looking your way, Annie Hall and Manhattan - the dialog was florid and witty. Here it's dull and placid. So you get these long stretches where two of the characters, whomever they are, will talk, and talk, and talk endlessly about whatever their current situation is, without doing much about it. These people are the poster children for passive-aggressive behavior; even when they do act on something, it's devoid of passion and meaning.

    Except, of course, when Cruz shows up. Before we even meet her, Maria Elena is shown to be idolized by Juan Antonio, even after she stabbed him with a knife. She's shown as this fiery charmer with whom the charming Juan Antonio had a love-hate relationship, and when Cruz finally does appear on screen, you can see the attraction and tension between them. This is partially because of how well Bardem and Cruz work together here but also because the other actors have virtually no charisma, not even the free-wheeling, carefree, doesn't-know-what-she-wants Cristina (Johannson).

    But it's not just the talkiness and the lack of passion, it's the fact that this is a Woody Allen movie that behaves more like a John Badham movie, a movie that is virtually indistinguishable from other movies in the genre 0 in this case, romantic melodrama, I assume. On the plus side, it's not as horrendous as Allen's Match Point, which started out as a romantic melodrama and then inexplicably transformed into a deranged-stalker/murderer movie, but that doesn't make this a good movie by any stretch.

    Perhaps it's a bit unfair to compare this to Allen's old movies, since everyone evolves, but I do wish he'd come back to writing about middle-class characters instead of these well-to-do, conceited knuckleheads. Watching his upper-class fables reminds me more of Merchant-Ivory dramas than anything else, and perhaps we should leave those movies to the likes of Merchant and Ivory, or Whit Stillman. This is a costume-drama period piece sans costumes or, uh, a period. It's wildly predictable - you can guess the sexual permutations about 20 minutes early - and a boring footnote to the master's long career.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this movie based on the IMDb score for this movie. I always like Woodys earlier work, and hoped this might be a decent film. How wrong I was...

    Watch it for half an hour, and if you can tolerate the terrible acting, maybe you will enjoy this film. The storyline is pretty standard, but what sets this film apart is the absolutely horrendous acting and dialogue. It simply made me cringe watching it.

    This film robs people of their valuable time. If your time has no value, you'll probably enjoy this.

    Simply terrible, and a bit sad really. Poor woody...
  • oscarxp2515 August 2008
    When Match Point came out in 2005, I was impressed, but no blown away like most of the public and critics. I thought it was an interesting movie that dealt with dark issues, but it didn't feel like Woody Allen. Scoop was a cute movie, but felt like fluff.

    I am here to tell you after going on opening night that VICKY Christina BARCELONA isn't only enchanting, but so well written. I always look forward to Woody's writing because he is the best. The film just looks beautiful from the way it is shot. Javier, Scarlett and Cruz (Hilarous) are all good, but it is Rebecca Hall who stands out in this picture; giving Vicky such depth and character.

    Allen is just the master. In the summer of effects and action, it is nice to have a film with such wit and smart observation in it. GO SEE IT!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Here's a word I despise using in reviews: boring. But, I seriously can't avoid describing 'Vicky Christina Barcelona' as just that: boring. Probably because I've never been a Woody Allen fan. Well, you're either a Woody Allen fan or not, an Adam Sandler fan or not, a Jim Carrey fan or not, or even a Stanley Kubrick fan or not. (Personally, only of the ones mentioned, I'm only a Carrey fan, but only for about 70% of his films.) 'Vicky' seems just to be a simple story of two different, but best gal friends on holiday in Spain who both get seduced by a completely lost, and drama-followed painter (Bardem.) We learn of their loves/likes/dislikes and definitely unhappy lifestyles they either are leading or will live. Everyone is lost, unhappy or despicable. Barely a character will think twice about having an affair, a destructive threesome or someone else's feelings. In fact, the only character you feel for, or maybe supposed to care about is Chris, the finance/husband of Vicky, much like John C. Reilly's character, Amos, in 'Chicago' – both Amos and Chris are the only respectable characters/spouses in their movies and both are completely oblivious and naïve. Yet, we get to watch them get lied to, stomped on and kept in the dark throughout. Granted, both title characters did what they could with the material they were given, but the real reason I watched was for all the Oscar buzz concerning Penelope Cruz. Yes, she was good. Great? Not really. My vote still leans towards Marisa Tomei in 'The Wrestler.' And you have to stammer through the first 50 out of 96 minutes to finally see Cruz. Aside from her performance, I'm not surprised no other nominations were handed out. Oh, yeah, they were probably just as bored as I was.
  • Principled monogamists may not like this film. Not only does it show its primary characters in relationships with multiple partners but, with one exception, they are quite open with each other about it. Allen suggests both that romantic happiness is best achieved with more than one person and that it is necessarily ephemeral (I wonder what his young wife, Soon-Yi Previn, thinks). He says in a Los Angeles Times interview with Rachel Abramowitz that Vicky Cristina Barcelona is, ultimately, "a very sad film."

    If so, it may be the brightest sad film ever made. All of the actors are at their best and make immediate connections with the audience. With the exception of an unnecessary voice-over narration (in which Gaudí is mispronounced with stress on the initial syllable), the self-conscious affectations that haunt some of Allen's films are absent. Fine actors are allowed to speak for themselves. According to the Abramowitz interview, Allen "never talked to the actors, other than to give them stage directions." The resulting feel is often one of brilliant improvisation.

    The complex romantic relationships among its four primary characters are what the movie's mostly about and I won't spoil it by going into them. Patricia Clarkson, however, deserves mention for her role as Judy Nash, the middle-aged wife of an American couple who are friends of Vicky's parents and with whom solid Vicky and impetuous Cristina stay in Barcelona (though Cristina soon moves in with the charismatic artist, Juan Antonio). Judy is married to a dull but steady man, somewhat similar to the man that Vicky is about to wed. Vicky confides to Judy about her uncharacteristic fling with Juan Antonio. Judy advises Vicky to reap her passion while she can and arranges another meeting between the two. All of this is low-keyed and entirely believable.

    As the movie's title suggests, it's about Barcelona as well as Vicky and Cristina. There are many outdoor shots of the city, especially of Gaudí's Park Güell. They amount to more than a minor travelogue because structures that are usually photographed in isolation appear with everyday crowds of people. Like Bruges in the movie In Bruges, the city is more than scenic background. Though never mentioned explicitly, Barcelona's anarchist past bubbles to the surface.
  • chaiongreentea24 February 2009
    I chose to watch this movie, expecting romance and comedy. Instead I found myself with a drama that basically has no point. Though Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem deliver impressive performances, the two leading ladies, particularly Rebecca Hall, fall flat. Not only is she unable to portray any emotion or moment realistically, the story lacks any true message or beauty beyond the surroundings. The narrator seems completely out of place and is painful to listen to when images could speak so much louder than his words. While there are brief flashes of light in which a thought is touched on, none are developed. Also, the characters themselves lack true development. None seem to grow from their experiences, simply filling stereotypes and lacking true human psychology.Overall this movie was a bitter disappointment.
  • I don't understand the raves this movie is getting. The only masterpiece Woody Allen ever made was "Manhattan." Even "Annie Hall" got too coy and cute for me. The early comedies were sublime because he had a sense of humor about himself. I had high hopes for "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona," (principally because I knew Allen wouldn't be in it playing the usual old lech who thinks he's irresistible to a much younger starlet). However, I found the dialogue banal, the sense of drama non-existent and the narrator beyond annoying. The humor, if there was any, passed me by. The reviews called it "sun-drenched," but at least at the theatre in which I saw it, the picture was murky and out-of-focus at best. Most tedious movie I've seen in years, a huge disappointment. Maybe if the whole thing had been in Spanish?
  • This was the longest 92 minutes in the history of the world! Listening to Bardem drone on and on was impossible. The music was simply terrible and a downer so that it was, in fact, the best part of the movie. Maria Elana should have been allowed to commit suicide and maybe the movie could have ended in 60 minutes. But it was never convincing that she wanted to die or had any reason to want to die. It all goes to the vision, or lack there of, of the director. There has never been a great Woody Allen movie. We can debate Annie Hall some other time I am positive that the only people who like him live in New York and LA. He was great at stand up. It has been all down hill since
  • Skriptman15 January 2009
    This film left me scratching my head. As so many others have pointed out in these posts, the characters, without exception, are self-indulgent, spoiled, unlikeable hedonists who occupy their own tiny, self-absorbed worlds. While art, romance and relationships are intended (I suppose) to be examined and appreciated, the film succeeds only in trivializing and ridiculing anything of real value and merit.

    The film lacks any stamp of Allen's typical wit and humor. In fact, I'm hesitant even to call it a comedy since it would be cruel to laugh at people so vacuous and pathetic. Sadly, the script gives the normally stellar cast precious little from which to create believable characters -- the result being a hodgepodge of clichés and stereotypes. Mind you, glamorous and beautiful ones at that.
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