Sunday, December 13, 2009

Watched- Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Penelope Cruz at the 81st Academy AwardsImage via Wikipedia
Despite its irritating title, the very fact that "Barcelona" featured in it made me want to watch this movie. And of course, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem- come on! This is basically a neat, good-natured Woody Allen film about relationships and a kind of unpretentious slice-of-life story. The two girls, Vicky and Cristina, are spending a summer in Barcleona. The somewhat starchy Vicky is getting her Ph.D in "Catalan identity" (!) and Cristina is, well, just drifting.
No sooner do they settle down in the palatial home of Vicky's aunt, that they run into Juan Antonio, an artist, who promptly propositions them both as soon as they meet. Without getting into the details, the rest of the film tells the story of the many relationships between each of the characters. Then there is Maria Elena, Juan Antonio's ex-wife: moody, tempestuous, gorgeous, and utterly unforgettable. Penelope Cruz is stupendous. The scene where she speaks contemptuously about the new woman in her ex-husband's life is the best in the movie- it's full of electricity and intimacy.
But there is the fact that there is a rather distracting, fifties-style narration voice over which I didn't know what to make of. It's so over the top that you end up forgiving it as Woody Allen's indulgence, but I'm still not sure. Poor Scarlett Johansson as Cristina gets overshadowed by the earthy brilliance that drips from both Cruz and Bardem. Rebecca Hall who plays Vicky is also sidelined. The two Spaniards are so gifted. It's a crime, almost.
All in all, I would rate the movie as interesting and watchable. Not brilliant, but easy. Of course, it has brought to light my rapidly developing girl-crush on Cruz, but what can one do. There is the impossible Javier, too, to deal with. Sigh. Besides all the achingly familiar landmarks of Barcelona and the haunting strains of Spanish guitar (they seem to have a real guitarist problem in that country).
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