Movie Review: Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
I’ve always been a fan of Woody Allen movies, and of course there are Woody Allen Woody Allen movies, and plain ol’ he directed the movie Woody Allen movies. He throws a dud or two out there every so often, but this flick is definitely something of a different breed. When Scarlett Johansson (Christina) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky) talk about the strange situation they find themselves in, there’s the classic awkward fumbling about in every Woody Allen movie. The splitting of friends over some misunderstanding that leads into character growth and realization. Less laughs in this one, more chaotic and harrowing tangents to reach enlightenment. Laughter though at the situations, at Penelope Cruz’s insanity, her waving around a gun and errantly shooting Vicky.
Scarlett Johansson plays the classic Allen archetype: a soul-searching artist, reluctant to see herself as valuable or talented, instead replacing that with dread and surrounding herself with people who are magnetized to her. The main difference here is that Scarlett Johansson is voted as one of the world’s hottest bombshells, and Woody Allen has always been a small-framed nebbish with thick-rimmed glasses. The trademark off-key wit resides here.
Javier Bardem’s character has many layers worth peeling away. As Juan Antonio, he’s the catalyst for all the antics in the movie, yet confused about his role in the story. Once more with the tortured artist motif, Bardem plays it masterfully, wining and dining the other characters and the audience. He’s a voice of reason in this rough and tumble world of intellectualism, yet plagued by the insanity and uncertainty of those around him.
In terms of script and direction, this movie definitely challenges how you think of Woody Allen movies. There’s genuine realization about people not being who they appear to be—a life lesson in this movie that comes from betrayal, mental illness, and emotional compromise. While it isn’t the finest work of my childhood hero, Mr. Allen--it’s a movie you should see just for the intrigue factor.