Saturday, October 25, 2008

London Film Festival Day 11 - VICKY, CRISTINA, BARCELONA

VICKY, CRISTINA, BARCELONA is a superficial film about superficial people. It has the surface polish of all Woody Allen films - sun-dappled, beautiful people in beautiful houses - but none of the moral bite or emotional imsight of a MANHATTAN or CRIMES and MISDEMEANORS. It slips down easily thanks to the pretty faces and the witty dialogue, but frankly there is no reason for this movie to exist nor for you to waste ninety minutes on it.

The movie opens with two classic Woody Allen tony yanks arriving in Barcelona for the summer. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is Sense and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is Sensibility. Both are propositioned for a weekend of culture and casual sex by free-thinking painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). They accept - Vicky reluctantly, Cristina happil - but of course its sensible, engaged Vicky who ends up in the sack. Back in Barcelona, Cristina moves in with Juan Antonio and enters into a menage a trois with him and his dramatic ex-wife Maria-Elena (Penelope Cruz). As the summer ends, serially dissatisfied Cristina writes it all off as a phase and leaves, along with Vicky who condemns herself to a life of boring marriage to a safe investment banker.

Have we learned anything? Woody Allen is down on love. Sensible girls end up with the safe life and the cash. Flighty girls end up being disatisfied. Sexual bombshells are a complete fucking nightmare. Everyone is self-involved - everyone ends up unhappy. The fact that this is all set in beautiful, sunny Barcelona should not fool you as to the deeply nihilistic message at the core.

As to the quality of the production, certainly the film and the actors look beautiful, and even when Woody Allen isn't saying anything new or interesting, he still says it with some style. The big problem is that Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz act Scarlett Johansson off the screen. The even bigger problem is that Allen never really explores or gets under the skin of the emotional and sexual dynamics of the menage-a-trois as Christophe Honore did in LES CHANSONS D'AMOUR.

VICKY, CRISTINA, BARCELONA played Cannes and London 2008. It was released earlier this year in the US, Norway, Spain, Singapore, France, Taiwan, Italy, Israel, Belgium and Finland. It opens in December in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Russia and Australia. It opens in Argentina on February 5th.

No comments:

Post a Comment