Even though I couldn’t get it for a buck at Redbox (stupid Blockbuster exclusives!), Alli and I rented Vicky Cristina Barcelona today. Frankly, this is something that I did against my better judgment. I am not a Woody Allen fan. I absolutely loathed Match Point (not even worth a link) and enjoyed Annie Hall, despite Woody Allen actually being in the film.
I had low expectations going into this movie, but was intrigued because of all the Oscar buzz surrounding Penelope Cruz for her performance as Maria Elena.
The movie is basically about two categorically different American tourists, played by Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall who travel to Barcelona for the summer and both have affairs with the same dashing Spaniard, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a stereotypical free spirit painter who meets them by proposing a tryst of sorts. He is plagued by the memory (and presence) of his ex-wife (Cruz), who is also a painter and may or may not be absolutely crazy.
The movie plays against the gorgeous scenery of Spain and the subject matter is interesting. On one side, you have Cristina (Johansson), the free spirit, free-thinking, free-loving creative-type who wants perhaps a little too much to be a part of Juan Antonio’s “scene” (and yes, I punched myself in the arm 3 times for saying “scene”).
Vicky, on the other hand, is settled, engaged, and doesn’t seem too interested in Juan Antonio. All the same, he’s a dashing, handsome, Spanish painter. So you can imagine what happens.
Like I said, I’m no Woody Allen fan. I’m especially not a fan of Woody Allen the Actor. Fortunately, the annoying little Manhattanite does not pollute the screen, but if I liked this movie at all, it wasn’t because of Allen’s writing or direction, but rather the gorgeous scenery and the subjects that the characters discussed: love and life. Their dialogue wasn’t well written or even all that clever. Not only were they not all that clever, but Â there was also the offensive, ubiquitous presence of a narrator, which at times seemed just a very lazy way of giving us insight into characters that we could have easily figured out for ourselves.
Ultimately, the reason we checked out this film was to see what all the hubbub was about Penelope Cruz. I’ll be frank. While it’s nice to see her be able to act in her native tongue, I didn’t think her performance was anything NEAR what Taraji P. Henson put forth in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. As far as supporting roles go in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I was more impressed by Rebecca Hall than anyone else. But that’s just me.
There are so many people who attended film school and would I’m sure love to espouse to me the greatness of the Manhattan Midget director. Save it. I’m not buying it for a second. He may be one of the most prolific writer/directors of all-time, but there’s a reason that his movies don’t sell tickets. They are not very good.Â
If you want to see this movie, I’d wait until Blockbuster’s exclusive runs out. It’s not worth the $5 rental. I’d much rather have watched it for free on a Monday from Redbox. I wouldn’t waste your money on this one.