Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona. B

Woody Allen brings his favorite subject, the mysteries of love, to the screen once again with 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' and though it may not be up there with Allen's finest work, it may very well one of his most entertaining movies. Vicky and Cristina (Rebecca Hall and Allen regular Scarlet Johansson) are two ambitious young Americans traveling to Barcelona for the summer. Vicky wants to finish up her degree, as she also prepares to marry her fiance, Doug (Chris Messina). Cristina is visiting more for the experience than anything else. While attending an art gallery, they meet Juan Antonio Gonzalo (Javier Bardem-in his first role since his crazy turn in 'No Country For Old Men'), a romantic artist who invites the two to spend a weekend with him in a small city, Oviedo. At first they refuse, but when Cristina suddenly becomes intrigued by Juan Antonio, they both end up joining the artist for the Weekend. This begins a series of wild love affairs, which includes Antonio's ex-wife, Maria Elena, played by Penelope Cruz. 'VCB' is a bit of a letdown in that it leaves little room for comedy, something that is almost never absent in Allen's movies. Also, not everything is entirely believable in the movie. But the strength of the film lies in the strong performances and the clever, entertaining dialogue from a script that Allen wrote. Rebecca Hall, who we recently saw in 'Frost/Nixon,' gives a great performance, but Penelope Cruz stole the show for me, thanks much to her unrelenting beauty. Her presence seems to fill the screen, even though she doesn't actually appear until the final third of picture. Overall, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' is a deeply satisfying movie, supremely entertaining, and another score for Woody Allen.

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