The Screening Room Blog
Monday, October 27, 2008
Return to form for Woody Allen
LONDON, England -- Lust, passion, laughter, art, a beautiful city and a ménage a trois with two of the world’s most beautiful actresses -- you couldn’t ask for more perfect ingredients for a great Woody Allen tragic-comedy.

What some are calling a true return to form for Allen with “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona,” is actually the evolution of a form he has been experimenting with for quite some time.

Allen, a self-confessed neurotic, seems to have found a new self in Europe, filming most of his latest movies on the continent which has often been more appreciative of his talents than his native United States.

Mostly, his new-found confidence has paid off. “Match Point” was received in the main positively and while 2007's “Cassandra’s Dream” is one of only few movies that made me fall asleep, he has now succeeded in most critics’ eyes with “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona.”

Scarlett Johansson and equally luscious-lipped co-star, Rebecca Hall, who play respectively Cristina and Vicky, are best friends spending the summer in Barcelona. While Vicky, who is engaged to a good but terribly lackluster man, believes that true love can only mean commitment and stability, Cristina is a fervent soul who insists love can only mean deep passion and bottomless pain.

Both their worlds are turned upside down when they meet Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a confident, passionate Spanish painter with a taste for ménages a trois -- Bardem being infinitely sexier in this role than he was as a serial killer with a bob haircut in “No Country for Old Men.”

But the incontestable star of the movie is Penelope Cruz, who plays Maria Elena, the psychotic but brilliant ex-wife of Juan Antonio. Cruz brings a depth to the character that Allen rarely elicits from his actors and that Johansson and Hall could only dream of.

In the end, the movie works because it deals with a theme to which most women can relate. Should I stick with that great guy, who guarantees a stable and fine life-partnership, or do I leave him to roam the world in search of the passionate, sexually-charged, volatile artist-type more likely to leave me in pieces?

I somehow hoped that Woody Allen, who has himself been through the torments of love, would provide that magic answer. As usual, however, Allen offers only questions.

But while parts of the movie come off tragic, he takes the theme of love with a pinch of salt. A choice the audience seemed to appreciate responding with little other than laughs and applause.

Do you think "Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona" is a contender for Best Picture at the Oscars?

-- From Anouk Lorie for CNN

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Um, didn't this movie come out weeks ago?
Like all W. Allen previous films, this one is one more boring, meaningless, childish piece of bad "art". This man is psycotic, neurotic and obsessed with anything about Europe. Somebody stop him!
I always enjoy reading about movies and discussions like this. But the Screening Room, while it is an excellent and visible forum, is the most childish reporting and always blubbers ignorantly in its articles. Like the previous one where they never mentioned Seven Samurai in Asia's greatest films this one call's Allen's latest movie a return to form. Did the author forget that just a few years ago Allen was nominated at the Academy Awards for writing Match Point? In the common media Allen's career has "returned to form" since Match Point and is currently undergoing a "second renaissance" or some other such cliche. Please shape up guys, I like this forum but the film knowledge expressed here is depressing.
Oh my God, Bardem is so sexy in this movie! I don't usually like Woody Allen movies, but my sister dragged me to see this film and I loved it! But I think I might have been blinded by how gorgeous all the characters were
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