Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Review by Jonathan Crocker @JonathanCrocker

Directed by

Woody Allen

Starring

Javier Bardem Penelope Cruz Scarlett Johansson

Anticipation.

Woody Allen goes on holiday to Spain. Brings a camera.

Enjoyment.

Bardem and Cruz: hotter than the sun.

In Retrospect.

As thin and well-worn as a Spanish postcard, but undeniably sexy and funny.

Woody Allen serves up a sizzling romantic drama with three seductive central performances.

Until an hour or so into Woody Allen’s thirty-ninth film as writer/director, there’s only one reason to watch it. Swapping No Country For Old Men’s bowl haircut and killer stare for an open-necked shirt and designer stubble, Javier Bardem is the sexiest man you’ve ever seen on screen. He’s so damn sexy, he almost makes you forget the ludicrous, paper-thin clichés of Allen’s story. Almost.

On holiday in Barcelona, balanced brunette Rebecca Hall (lovely but under-stretched) and impetuous blonde Scarlett Johansson (beautiful but bland) are chatted up by Bardem’s bohemian Spanish lothario. He’s rich; he’s witty; he paints; he loves wine; he adores guitar; he wants to shag them both. This being a film, they throw caution to the wind and go to stay with this perfect stranger. Lots of voiceover and romantic entanglement ensue, but eventually boredom begins to intrude.

Then it happens: suicidal ex-wife Penélope Cruz gatecrashes for some of the fieriest, funniest babble-of-the-sexes motor-mouthing in a long, long time. Non-existent in English roles, superb in Spanish ones, Cruz here sets the film on fire every second she’s on screen. Between them, Bardem and Cruz cause fizzing, molten fireworks of passion and jealousy that simply didn’t exist in Allen’s script. And yes, Cruz does get it on with Johansson. But blink and you’ll miss it.

No doubt about it, Allen’s latest throwaway rom-com is utterly silly, forgettable and predictable. It’s also his most purely entertaining film in years.

Published 5 Feb 2009

Tags: Woody Allen

Anticipation.

Woody Allen goes on holiday to Spain. Brings a camera.

Enjoyment.

Bardem and Cruz: hotter than the sun.

In Retrospect.

As thin and well-worn as a Spanish postcard, but undeniably sexy and funny.

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