Does the Woody Allen picture, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), deserve the warm reaction provided by many of the reviewers? I’m afraid not, despite its being somewhat superior to other Allen items.
This is primarily because of the premise: “Two friends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture” (imdb.com). The two friends (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) are American and visiting Catalonia; the painter (Javier Bardem) is a naughty lover boy. The girls are not boring, as I think the painter is, but everyone here is so blasted morally weak the film loses plausibility. Hall’s Vicky, for example, begins to love Bardem more than her amiable new husband. The painter’s ex-wife (Penelope Cruz), believed by some to be a “genius,” is emotionally weak, at the end jealously wielding a pistol. When the pistol goes off, the bullet strikes Vicky’s hand but seems not to cause her any genuine pain, which is nonsense.
As ever, much of the dialogue is pathetically bad, and the successful acting of the principal players would be easier to appreciate if the characters were a bit more than Allen’s puppets. We see him, not them. At least there are some great shots of Barcelona, but it is not enough.