There's that age old question: "what do women want?". Here, Woody seems to posit that not even they know; from Vicky, who seems to want a stable, secure marriage, but then realizes that said security is boring and a trap , to Christina, who gets everything she seemingly wants, and still finds it wanting.
In the middle of these women is a Spanish artist, wonderfully played by Javier Bardem, who embodies bohemian ethos and wants nothing more than to love and be loved. Bardem is the glue that holds this film together, although Penelope Cruz is wonderful as his ex-wife and fellow artist (who may or may not be "crazy" - I'll let you decide).
The acting here, throughout, is above grade, and much of the dialog is as well; not to mention some lovely scenery. So then why do I resist rating this higher? Because, dear readers, I detest voice over narration! So often, and this film is no exception, I feel like the narrator is leading me around by the nose, not letting me feel or experience, or form my own opinion of the story arc. It's unfortunate, for the film has a lovely tone and delves into a very complex issue (love and all its trappings) with feeling.
This film, as kind of de riguer for Woody Allen films, was marketed as a romantic comedy - but I can't say strongly enough that it is NOT a comedy! There is nothing funny about any of the situations presented here, and there are no laugh out loud lines at all. If there is any humour to be found, it's only in the dark satiric skewering of the materialistic upper crust. It's not funny that Vicky seemingly resigns herself to an unhappy and unfulfilled life (the living of which is in itself a lie), or that Cristina seems unable to achieve a sense of balance and peace with her desires. As the closing narration states "Cristina didn't know what she wanted, only what she didn't want". That simple statement can be read so many ways, but I took it as an accusation to one with a restless soul, always looking for more than she has instead of being content and counting her blessings for all that she has already been given.