Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a Woody Allen joint. I am not a big fan of Woody Allen and found the movie to be a bit irritating from the very beginning. When a narrator provided a "first-grade-reader" level of introduction to the characters, I told my wife that I sincerely hoped that the narration was only part of the introduction. It was not. The story-teller interjects throughout the film with distracting simplistic explanations that seem a failed attempt at humor.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona tells the story of two friends (Vicky and Cristina...played by Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson, respectively), who spend a Summer vacation in Spain. Vicky is grounded and stable, while Cristina is impulsive. The two end up crossing paths with a blunt artist (Javier Bardem) who talks them into spending a weekend with him. The artist has a mentally deranged ex-wife (Maria Elena AKA Penolope Cruz) who enters the picture later in the film. The four experience a variety of relationships during the course of the film, with very little in the way of closure. The film seemed more like an excuse to show off the phenomenal products of talented Spanish artists and the Spanish landscape than anything else. For that reason, I can give the film a star.

The acting was also very good...so I will throw in another star for good measure. Bardem was fairly good in this film, but was up-staged by Penolope Cruz, who was allowed to let her fiery side out. Cruz was actually funny in a tortured sort of way. Hall and Johannson had decent roles and good chemistry with Bardem. As a whole, the acting made up for the boring plot and forced dialogue. (The dialogue was anything but cliche...but it seemed to try to hard to be original...to the point that I had no idea what people were talking about at times). Penolope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film, and it was well deserved. Her performance upstaged the leads and even upstaged the script!

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