Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Written and directed by Woody Allen

Best friends Vicky and Cristina arrive in Barcelona for the summer.  As is often the way, the two are total opposites: goal-oriented Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is due to marry her fiancée Doug when they get back to America, but in the meantime throws herself into a study of the Catalan culture for her masters thesis.  Creative dreamer Cristina (Scarlett Johansen) is hoping to use the time to figure out what to do with her life, which has so far been defined by a series of failed artistic experiments.

When Cristina flirtatiously throws them into the path of sexy local painter Juan Antonio, (Javier Bardem,) things heat up, causing tension when they both succumb to his charms.  Vicky fights the attraction and moves up her wedding, while Cristina pursues passion and moves in with him.  Cue Juan’s estranged wife, the charismatic Maria Elena, who’s none too pleased to see someone taking her place…

All the hallmarks of vintage Woody Allen films are present and correct in the writer/director’s latest offering – naturalistic, even awkward dialogue, conflicted characters, and sharp insights into human nature – but it’s also got that sparkle his most recent films have lacked.  Barcelona is a stunning backdrop to a story by turns raunchy and comic, the three leads are spot on, and Penelope Cruz puts in an explosive performance as deranged genius Maria Elena, utterly deserving her Oscar nomination for the role.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is full of flavour and giggles, the ideal start for a girls' night out.  It’s going to spark plenty of debate, so follow it up with a large glass of wine and hours of gossip and relationship analysis.  Perfect!

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