Directed by: Woody Allen | 96 minutes | drama, comedy, romance | Actors: Javier Bardem, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Christopher Evan Welch, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Julio Perillán, Juan Quesada, Richard Salom, Maurice Sonnenberg, Antonio Manel Barceló, Josep Maria Domènech, Emilio de Benito , Jaume Montané
Woody Allen has shifted his field of work as a director to Europe in recent years. Where he previously mainly had New York as a location, in his more recent films he has chosen London and the surrounding area as the place of action. (“Match Point”, “Scoop” and “Cassandra’s Dream”). In his new film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” he moves the setting to Spain. Perhaps the sun and the pleasant (new) environment have inspired him: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a delightful, light-hearted comedy with quality and substance. Woody Allen wanted to honor the city of Barcelona in his film and he certainly succeeded in this goal.
The story begins with two American friends arriving in Barcelona to stay with friends for the summer period. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is the somewhat analytical and more solid looking brunette. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is the blonde with the disposition of a free spirit and more of the loose-headed type who sees what comes of it and takes life (and the relationships within) more or less as it comes. Vicky wants to study Catalan culture and Cristina does something unclear with photography. Attractive as they are, through their artistic / cultural ‘aspirations’ they come into contact with the painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) through an exhibition, who invites them to go with him to Oviedo to study the beautiful architecture and then spend the night there. to spend. Many stories are circulating about Juan Antonio, he is said to have a stormy sex life and a fighting divorce with his ex, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz). He tried to kill him passionately. The somewhat more bourgeois Vicky rejects this proposal, she considers herself “offended” by this sudden proposal and claims to be properly engaged. Cristina thinks it’s an exciting idea and eventually convinces Vicky to go along, they’ll see how things develop. They’ll see whether they will eventually do what Juan suggests.
After a romantic dinner et cetera, Vicky falls ill just before she wants to give substance to his proposal with Juan. She appears to have a stomach ulcer and suddenly has to go to bed. What can be expected is happening: the reluctant Vicky allows herself to be taken over by the beautiful Juan and she does what she would never have expected of herself. Vicky more or less pushes what happened as if it never happened. Juan turns his attention to Cristina, resulting in a relationship. What has happened has not left Vicky unaffected, she is still charmed by the heartthrob Juan, but she still marries her decent fiancé. Cristina and Juan move in together, but suddenly the beautiful Maria Elena shows up. She is in spiritual need and threatens to commit suicide. Juan says he sees no other solution than to take her into the house to prevent accidents. This complicated menage à trois is increasingly under pressure, partly due to fierce quarrels between Juan and Maria Elena.
The film’s locations take full advantage of Gaudi’s magnificent architecture (including the world-famous Sagrada Familia) and the Joan Míro Museum. All beautiful places, promenades (Ramblas) and parks are (abundantly) shown. Those images are a real feast for the eyes and should be enough reason for fans of Barcelona to see the film anyway. The characters of Vicky, Cristina and Juan are without doubt credible, as are those of the passionate Maria Elena who, incidentally, only appears in the film story after some time. Javier Bardem, as well as Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz are in excellent shape. The chemistry between these actors is clearly present. Javier Bardem plays his role of Don Juan with special conviction and flair. As an artistic charmer, Bardem has undergone a magnificent metamorphosis compared to his cold murderer role in “No Country for Old Men”. As befits a comedy, some characters are enlarged in black and white (like Vicky’s fiancé), but that is not a problem for a moment. Woody Allen (thankfully) didn’t assign herself a role this time. His characteristic dialogues have been fully incorporated into the script and give the film both a light, amusing undertone, but just as many moments with sharp, humorous dialogues. The story runs smoothly and fluently and never stops. A comedy to enjoy. Airy, but with content and quality. Witty, inspiring and relaxing.