Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall,
Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Chris Messina

"Life is the ultimate work of art"

Lest you think by reading the title that this film was a p0rn flick, well you are utterly wrong. Although the plot does include a menage a trois in the later part of the film, it was brief and not 'dirty' at all. This movie is the latest offering from Woody Allen. His 3rd or 4th movie filmed outside of his comfort zone (New York), the setting is where else but in Barcelona, Spain.

It recounts the story of 2 American (tourists) friends, Vicky and Cristina who plant themselves in Barcelona for 2 months. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) visits the Spanish city for her thesis on Catalan Identity and her friend, Cristina tags along. They are complete opposites in every aspect. Vicky is the sensible, practical one raised on traditional values. She is organized, plans ahead and is engaged to be married to Doug. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) on the other hand is a careless, free spirit, more adventurous and spontaneous with a rebel streak. A lost soul who is constantly searching for something more meaningful in her life. Although she herself hardly knows what it is. Both women's lives are suddenly turned upside down once they meet the enigmatic local painter/artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). A bohemian artist who is still hooked on (although he denies it vehemently) his tempestuous ex wife, the fiery Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).

An interesting study of flawed contrasting characters with their numerous hang ups, the film is beautifully narrated by a voice over that helps the audience to better understand the characters. I've always liked voice overs/narrations in films. It reels in the viewer in some form of interactive connection with the people in the film.

The picturesque landscape of Barcelona as well as a side trip to Oviedo adds to the "European" feel. Ably guided by the sounds of Spanish guitar and Spanish songs, Woody Allen takes us on yet another journey wherein he explores human relationships in all its perplexed glory. The American cast composed of Johansson and Hall versus the Spanish duo Bardem and Cruz were constantly clashing against each other (in the film). Staid, straightforward acting vis a vis fiery, passionate Latino brand of acting.

A good film about well developed characters set in a panoramic background, Vicky Cristina Barcelona doesn't disappoint in showcasing Woody Allen's brand of complex yet entertaining portrayal of human relationships.

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