3 1/2 Stars
Woody Allen has been making films outside of New York for the past few years, and Spain proves to be a perfect inspiration and setting for his latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Rebecca Hall plays Vicky, an attractive and smart woman engaged to a successful and sensible man. Scarlett Johansson plays Cristina, the beautiful and impulsive best friend of Vicky who knows what she DOESN’T want in life, but can’t figure out which “path” to pursue. The girls are invited to spend two summer months in Barcelona with distant relatives of Vicky’s. This gives Vicky a perfect opportunity to finish work on her thesis topic, Catalan culture. After attending an art gallery opening, the two friends end up at a restaurant where they are approached by the handsome Spanish artist Juan Antonio (played by Javier Bardem.) He proceeds to invite both women away for a weekend of art, food and drink, and lovemaking. Vicky is appalled. Cristina is intrigued. And soon they are on an adventure sure to change the course of their lives. There are several angles to talk up this movie to potential viewers. If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, VCB is replete with witty Woody Allen dialogue and plenty of sensuality. For the armchair traveler, there’s good food and wine, breathtaking sights, and the passionate sounds of Spanish guitar. And I haven’t even mentioned Penelope Cruz’s Oscar-winning performance as Maria Elena, the crazy and gorgeous ex-wife of Juan Antonio’s. Last but not least, see this movie if only to realize that Javier Bardem can play a lover as well or better than a villain.