- Actors: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Christopher Evan Welch, Chris Messina
- Directors: Woody Allen
- Writers: Woody Allen
- Producers: Bernat Elias, Charles H. Joffe, Eva Garrido, Gareth Wiley, Helen Robin
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English, French
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: The Weinstein Company
- Release Date: Jan. 27 2009
- Run Time: 97 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- ASIN: B001GLX6W6
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,128 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Bilingual)
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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Bilingual)
It must be true that getting out of town can do a fellow a lot of good, because Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the best movie Woody Allen has made in years. Okay, you're right, 2006's Match Point already claimed that honor and, as Allen's first film made in England, established the virtues of getting away from overfamiliar territory (namely Manhattan). But the Woodman's first film made in Spain matches the ice-cold Match Point for crisp authority, and yields a good deal more sheer pleasure besides. Rebecca Hall (Vicky) and Scarlett Johansson (Cristina) play two young Americans, best friends, spending a summer in Catalonia. Vicky is going for a master's in "Catalan identity" (though her Spanish is shaky); Cristina is going along for, oh, just about anything. That soon includes celebrated abstract artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who's anything but abstract in his forthright proposition that the two join him in his private plane, his travels, and his bed. That he has an insane ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), who may or may not have tried to kill him is not really an issue until the wife reappears and ... well, consider the possibilities. Vicky Cristina Barcelona isn't exactly a comedy, at least not in the manner of Allen's "early, funny ones," but it's informed by a rueful wit that finds its fullest expression in reflective voiceover commentary. Spoken by Christopher Evan Welch, but surely on behalf of the 73-year-old auteur, this element of the film is neither (as some have charged) patronizing nor uncinematic; rather, it's integral to the movie's participation in a venerable European literary tradition, the sentimental education. Instead of Bergman or Fellini, this time Allen is invoking the François Truffaut of Jules and Jim and Eric Rohmer in his many meditations on the game of love. The entire cast is terrific (both Hall and Johansson get to play "the Woody part" at different points), with Bardem and Cruz especially delightful as exemplars of Old Worldliness. Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe honors every drop of Catalonian sunlight and glint of Gaudí architecture. --Richard T. Jameson
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Woody Allen's humor won't work for everyone. His earlier work did contain significant amounts of physical humor and jokes, but I think he's at his best when he writes more seriously. Vicky Cristina Barcelona falls into that category. It's an examination of human nature, more than a comedy, but there are still plenty of amusing scenes.
What qualities do you find attractive in a romantic partner? Allen asks that question, and uses Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) to show two very different views. Vicky seeks stability, and likes to know what to expect from her man. Cristina is more of a free spirit, and wants her partners to have a similar outlook on life. Vicky has her future carefully planned, and is due to marry, whereas Cristina is still exploring and trying to find exactly what it is she is looking for. The thing is, she isn't sure what that is.
Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) is an artist, and boldly asks the two women to take a trip with him. He openly says that they will all make love during the trip. This proposition is attractive to Cristina, but Vicky is shocked by his brazen approach and wants nothing to do with him. Needless to say, the three do eventually make the trip. Juan Antonio is not a conventional man, and still has feelings for ex-wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz). Like him, she's passionate and unpredictable, as well as being an artist herself.
The story uses a narrator, and it's a great vehicle for some of the humor. Allen assembles a fantastic cast, as always, and the principals all give strong performances. Other notable appearances come from Vicky's husband-to-be, Doug (Chris Messina), and Judy (Patricia Clarkson), who is an important part of the puzzle.
Penélope Cruz won an Oscar for her supporting role, and she certainly steals most of the scenes in which she appears. Her character is a catalyst for the events that unfold in the second half of the movie, and it's during this time that Allen raises the most questions about the motives of his characters.
The writing is superb and left me thinking about relationships I have been involved in, and also some of the relationships that I have watched develop between my friends and acquaintances. Human interactions are unpredictable, complicated, and fascinating, and Allen weaves an interesting tale featuring all of those elements.
If you enjoyed such movies as Closer, Midnight in Paris, (500) Days of Summer, or The Graduate, you'll probably find something to like in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I think it's up there with Allen's most enjoyable work.
entertaining, diverting one, with two terrific performances by Javier
Bardem and Penelope Cruz, a very good one by Rebecca Hall, and a decent
one by Scarlett Johanssen.
The key flaw for me-- Johanssen's character comes off as very shallow, so the complexity
of her relationships with Bardem and Cruz never seem more than
adolescent. I realize that's ultimately part of the point of the film,
but here it's way too obvious from minute one, not something we slowly
discover, and in turn that keeps the film from
ultimately feeling deeper and more complex.
None-the-less, a romantic bittersweet film I've enjoyed well enough to go back and re-watch.
Interestingly, even more than most of Allen's films this seems to ignite very different reactions
from viewer to viewer, so I'd encourage you to check it out for yourself
if you have any interest in the elements.
I especially appreciated the scenes in Spanish between Bardem and Cruz(subtitled, of course). The barely suppressed violence, the instability of their relationship. The menage a trois is artfully managed; the sexuality is without overt nudity. Strongly recommended as one of the best of 2008.
Thankfully, he finally made a movie outside of that bubble and gave us what most of us want--a sensual pic set in a beautiful foreign locale (Barcelona natch!) and occupied with a range of characters running from the gorgeous and mysterious to the plain and mundane.
Even so this movie falls so flat. The ending just seems like he ran out of money and shut the camera off. Plus the way he actually treats relationships is almost cartoonish. the potential in the story is there but he's unable to weave multiple storylines (hey, Woodman, go watch a guy Ritchie caper flick to see how it's done in the 21st century) without seeing them simply left hanging and unresolved.
Also, stop treating us adults like we can't figure out the gaps in scenes. the voiceover narration is like some sort of instructions to the blind. It's beyond annoying. First rule of cinema, if you have to use narration, especially a third person one, to explain what is going on you've done a terrible job in filmmaking and are flat-out lazy.
There are zero extras on the version of this DVD I watched the flick on. That's sad as a whole Gaudi/Miro travelogue and making of is what I was dying for. Throw in the whole Javier No Country and Penelope Cruz dynamic in real life it'd be interesting to know what went on during the production of the movie.
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