Friday, 6 February 2009


Love him or hate him, Woody Allen is back!

It has been a depressing couple of years for the odd man with black-rimmed glasses following a catalogue of disappointing movies, such as Anything Else, Melinda and Melinda and the critically acclaimed although critically tedious Match Point - where Allen took a shot at being serious. And missed. Hopelessly.

However, thanks to a bit of Spanish sunshine, it seems the neurotic New Yorker has managed to strike gold with his 45th feature, Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson) are two American women spending their summer in Barcelona - soaking up all the art, culture and wine the city has to offer.

Vicky is realistic, sensible, ready to start the rest of her life with a man she supposedly loves and wants to marry. Christina is the opposite, spontaneous, sexually adventeous, using each experience in some brazen attempt to discover her creative self.

However, a chance meeting with seductive and impulsive Spanish painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Barden) brings their holiday to an immediate halt when he offers the pair a trip on his private jet to Oviedo where he intends to bed them both.

Throw in Antonia’s jealous ex-wife, Maria (Penelope Cruz) and a cast of other Woody Allen primed characters and you have the making of a great comedy drama.

Hailed by some critics as the Spainish version of Manhantan, Vicky Christina Barcelona stands on its own as part romantic comedy, part observational drama.

Barden is perfectly cast as the suave Antonia – bridges apart from his role as psychopathic hitman Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men, which deservedly won him an Oscar.

But it’s Cruz (nominated for Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Oscars) who steals the show as the jilted lover – frustrated by her ex-husband’s inability to make her happy but unable to cope without him.

The only criticism, similar to other Allen movies, is the film raises more questions than answers and while each character is wonderful to watch, the final result is abrupt and rather poorly planned.

Rating: * * * *

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