Star Rating:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Director: Woody Allen

Actors: Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Romance

Running time: USA minutes

Woody Allen's career has been up and down of late, but he can count the fun romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona as one of his better ones. Vicky (Hall) and Cristina (Johansson) visit Barcelona for the summer; the matter-of-fact narration tells us the uptight and traditional Vicky is studying Catalan identity while the impulsive Cristina has just completed a short film on love. On their first night out the girls meet the dashing artist Juan Antonio (Bardem), who invites them to Oviedo for a weekend of food, drink and sex with the emphasis being on sex. Although the soon-to-be-married Vicky is insulted at such a boorish suggestion, Cristina is up for it and convinces her friend to come along. Over the weekend the two women fall for Juan but no one was expecting his dangerously unhinged ex-wife (Cruz) crashing the party. Even though Johansson and Hall do their best, it's Bardem and Cruz who hijack the movie. Bardem keeps us guessing throughout - is he full of shit or is he the real deal? It might be hard to believe his character, but it's testament to his performance that he manages to pull off his Don Juan persona without being sleazy. He's matched by the firecracker Cruz, and when the two go at it, the movie really comes alive. With beautiful locations, lashings of art and guitarists strumming in moonlit courtyards, this is really a tourist's film - a Quiet Man's vision of Spain. Although lovely to look at, Allen really over eggs the Spanish pudding in showing us how gorgeous the area is, rendering it manufactured and unreal. But then again, the entire movie is fantasy. When the movie splits up into two stories – Vicky's and Cristina's - it's Vicky's that doesn't gel into the film: her character is by far the least interesting on show and the film suffers when she's given screen time. The narration, not voiced by Allen this time, is annoying and needless, telling us exactly what we're seeing. It might be fun, bizarre and enjoyable while it's on, but when the lights come on at the end there's a feeling that it's a big, fat nothing. A gorgeous big fat nothing, nonetheless.