Vicky Cristina Barcelona Reviews
Two unlikely friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), arrive in Barcelona set to spend the summer with Vicky's aunt and uncle. The audience learns from the narrator that Vicky enjoys structure and stability in all aspects of life. Vicky plans to use the summer doing research for her major in Catalan studies, and upon her return is set to marry in the fall. Cristina on the other hand, likes adventure and any new thrill. As a failed short filmmaker, Cristina hopes to find a new love that can spark some creativity for her, over the summer. Cristina only staying satisfied until her familiar stirring calls and she gets the urge to move on.
Some relatable characters arise out of this film, like Cristina. Cristina and her carefree, live for the thrill way of life can resonate with those that posses a sense of adventure. Late one evening while dining, Vicky and Cristina come across Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). He's a sultry Catalan painter, who has questionable behaviors. Juan Antonio approaches Vicky and Cristina making this suggestion, " I'd be honored if you'd both accompany me to Oviedo for the weekend. I will show you some beautiful sites, we can dine together and enjoy good food and wine, and then we can make love." (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) The girls having just been informed earlier about Juan Antonio's possible violent divorce, from his fiery, artistic ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz). Vicky instantly cautious puts up her guard. Cristina, even with her knowledge about Juan Antonio, is still curious and very willing to go.
Vicky and her fiancé Doug (Chris Messina) discuss their dislike of Cristina's free-loving, spirited personality. Vicky telling Doug, "She sometimes gets on my nerves with her crack-pot love affairs." Doug stating," Cristina's annoying, with her forever-unsatisfied struggle artist image. Her contempt with normalcy in a relationship is nothing more than a boring cliché." (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) Doug and Vicky soon rethink that discussion after meeting with Cristina for lunch one afternoon. Cristina describes to her friends the beautiful lovemaking that occurred with her and Maria Elena one day. How it was just a passing moment. That Cristina didn't feel the need to label. Vicky and Doug both remarking and asking question to her story. Both enthralled on the lure and luster of the tale
The Spanish guitar can be heard throughout various parts of the film. Casting a calming, yet seductive spell over its listeners. Possible making them go against their morals. Proven in this scene when Vicky is forced to dine alone with Juan Antonio one evening. Vicky anxiously ends a phone call from her fiancé. Juan Antonio somewhat puzzled by her actions, "Why were you so nervous just now on the phone?" (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) Vicky would blame it all on the wine, and seducing sounds from the Spanish guitar player. No matter the excuses Vicky relaxes enough, for her to sleep with Juan Antonio. That moment leaves Vicky still feeling anxious and a bit puzzled by her actions.
Some find music to be nothing more than a distraction. Witnessed in a scene one night when Vicky and Doug are dining with a friend couple of his. The music starts playing and Vicky becomes slightly disengaged from the tables' conversation. Isn't that the beauty of music though, its ability to mesmerize and transport listeners, even if it's just for a brief moment in time? Vicky is over come by the music and feeling so completely relaxed, that she zones out. Just like that listening to the sound of music can re-spark a memory. Vicky is taken back to that night spent with Juan Antonio.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is like watching a travel brochure come to life. Allowing visitors or in this case its viewers to experience all that Barcelona has to offer. The setting and backdrop of the film is just beautiful. Offering activities like strolling along cobblestone streets. Viewing buildings designed from famed artists like Gaudi. Leisurely afternoon picnics in the country hillsides and late night dinner's in one of Barcelona's many quant cafes. Roger Ebert had this to say about Barcelona, "Allen gives us a tour of the glories of Barcelona, the city of Gaudi and Miro, the excuse being that Juan Antonio is showing the girls the sites. As Hollywood learned long ago, there's nothing like a seductive location to lend interest to whatever is happening in the foreground."
In the end, Vicky and Cristina make their travel back home. While walking to the plane you see them gazing forward and possible wondering, is there a fine line between wants and desires. Does the audience need more of a conclusion, or is left pondering well enough. According to Roger Ebert's review, he had this to say about the film, "The actors are attractive, the city magnificent, the love scenes don't get all sweaty and everybody finishes the summer a little wiser, and with a lifetime of memories. What more could you ask." No matter what's left to ponder, the audience can surely agree Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona provides a majestic lore into Spanish culture with its majestic scenery and tranquil sounds. . Taking its viewers on a Catalan mini vacation, that only a summer spent in Barcelona can provide.
Here, as he did in To Rome With Love (another film that I did not like at all, it was even irritating), Woody Allen give a postcard like picture of Spain and of Barcelona, a city I know very well, and love.
The narrating voice is irritating, to say the least: really excessive. It is like a book reading itself: unfortunately, not a very good book.
The dialogues are ... well, even embarassing. But really, who in the World is speaking in that way? Even Javier Barden here looks not the same actor of Biutiful (well, Inarritu is not, fortunately for him and for us, Woody Allen),
The things change a little bit for better when Penelope Cruz, at last, appears: but it is not really enough.
Probably this is my last attempt with Woody Allen, a director that I used to love, 30 years ago.
Some of his most die-hard fans have decried the way his films have become hit-or-miss as of late - he either makes frothy romps or searing comedy-dramas - but I've never found myself to be anything less than charmed with what he has to offer, even if the finished product is slighter than his best works. 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," a sizzling combination of the aforementioned frothy romps and searing comedy-dramas, is Allen at his late-period prime.
Seventy-three upon release, it's staggering how well-tuned his dialogue and his characters remain to be after decades in the business. Most filmmakers lose their touch after a long period of brilliance. Not Allen. Consider that he made his directorial debut with 1966's "What's Up, Tiger Lily?," and that his remarkable craftsmanship has never disintegrated (despite a few uneven encounters). His relevance, and the excitement that arrives every year with a new movie, has held steady.
"Do we take him for granted?" Roger Ebert asks in the opening for his review of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." As someone who regularly rewatches his offerings (the latter, "Manhattan Murder Mystery"  and "Sleeper"  among them), I can say, at least in my experience, that I do not. Allen holds a special place in my heart, and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is no exception.
The last film in his string of works with modern muse Scarlett Johansson, the movie is a breathtaking comedy with pangs of drama and romance that make it as pleasurable as it is meaningful. It follows its eponymous heroines (played by a plucky Rebecca Hall and an earthily sensual Johansson, respectively) over the course of a single summer in Spain, where they partake in adventure and relaxation but also learn a lot about themselves and their desires.
Both are finishing up college and are beginning the journey to the rest of their lives. Vicky is level-headed and cautious, a square on the verge of a marriage to Doug (Chris Messina), a nice enough guy she isn't so sure she loves. Cristina is a free-spirit who suffers from unremitting dissatisfaction; she drifts from hobby to hobby, from man to man, in touch with what she wants until her latest interest wanes. Vicky and Cristina have been close since first meeting in school, but this summer could be one in which spending time in each other's company isn't a pressing issue; self-indulgence is key.
Temptation comes in the form of Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a casanova of a painter who captures the interest of both women after a couple of fleeting glances. First, they catch wind of the man at an art show, intrigued by his dark good looks. But the next time they spot him, he boldly comes to them. Confident in his sex appeal, he audaciously invites Vicky and Cristina to, that night, fly over to his Oviedo home for a weekend of sight seeing, wine drinking, and lovemaking. Vicky is taken aback, dramatically turning him down as if he were the most repulsive creature on the planet. Cristina, on the other hand, is spellbound, and takes his offer. Somehow, she drags Vicky along for the ride, too, who seems to only accept the idea as a way to ensure that Juan Antonio doesn't hurt her head-scratchingly spontaneous friend; he could be a killer for all they know.
But the weekend turns out to be summer-changing, at least for Vicky. Upon arrival, Cristina is stricken with a particularly bad case of food poisoning, and remains bedridden as the hours pass her by. At first, Vicky is panicked at the thought of having to spend the next two days with Juan Antonio - but to her surprise, he turns out to be a charismatic companion, one so charismatic, in fact, that, by Sunday (when they've done more than just see the sights and drink wine), she finds herself doubting the success of her current engagement.
The three fly back to Barcelona, where things begin to shift dramatically. Vicky keeps her feelings for Juan Antonio a secret, diving deep into her studies, while Cristina, recovered from her brief illness, gives romancing the painter another try and succeeds. The pot is stirred, though, when Doug shows up in Spain, ready to get married, and when María Elena (an incendiary Penélope Cruz), Juan Antonio's moody ex-wife, comes crashing into the middle of his and Cristina's relationship just as it starts to flower.
And from there, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" really begins to blossom and really begins to remind us why Allen's knack for writing and knack for characters is something bafflingly ageless. The separation of Vicky and Cristina is the very thing that prompts for the film's effulgent way of kicking off of the Finding Yourself trope, which Allen portrays at once teasingly and cynically. Teasing in how Cristina does so by living with María Elena and Juan Antonio and nurturing her interests in photography and sex, cynical in how Vicky frets about potentially leaving Doug for Juan Antonio, with us (and maybe even her) well aware that she'll be stuck in middling married life unless she makes a change (that we know she won't).
It's the symmetry between rompiness and pessimism that provides "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" with its attractive glow: it all looks and sounds incredible, its actors and scenery as gorgeous as Allen's dialogue. But because there's an underlying sense of reality beneath its porcelain beauty, it makes for savory popcorn entertainment incapable of getting lifted away in the throes of forgettability.
I could take on the role of so many other critics and compare it to Allen's other works and figure it to be light as an eclair and therefore insubstantial in contrast to his many works of genius. But why do so when presented with a film so utterly delightful, one that serves as a reminder that Allen could have easily gone into retirement at his age but still manages to amuse us time and time again? I'm sure I've seen "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" six times within the past four years, and its ability to seduce hasn't wrinkled. That's Allen for you.