DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5 stars)

    Rebecca Hall as VICKY
    Scarlett Johansson as CRISTINA
    Javier Bardem as JUAN ANTONIO GONZALO
    Penelope Cruz as MARIA ELENA
    Christopher Evan Welch as NARRATOR

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: The Weinstein Company

    Directed by: Woody Allen

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Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two young women spending the summer in Barcelona. While at a restaurant, they meet the sexy bohemian Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who invites them for a weekend of good food, good wine and good love-making. Vicky is appalled, but Cristina is interested, and the girls eventually join him.

Over the summer, the two women find their affections for Juan Antonio to be a challenge in different aspects of their lives. Vicky tries to resolve these feelings into her current, stuffy relationship, while Cristina dives into a life of free love, becoming involved with Juan Antonio and his fiery ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).

For fans of Woody Allen’s older movies (e.g., the “Annie Hall”) days, this would be a return to greatness. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the early Woody Allen era; in fact, I prefer some of his more recent stuff. However, I can appreciate this is what many loved about “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

The film itself is a basic Woody Allen male fantasy, but the wonderful thing is that he cast an actual sex symbol (Javier Bardem) rather than himself. Thank heavens for small favors.

Upon a second viewing, I will say that I am very impressed with Penelope Cruz’s performance. While she’s not that great of an actor in your basic English-language film (after all, did anyone enjoy her performance in “Sahara”), but she’s a fine actor in her native language. Sure, she speaks English in this film, but it all works within her character.

The strongest point of this film is what we get to look at, whether it be the beautiful shots of Barcelona, the likewise beautiful shots of Penelope Cruz painting in nothing but overalls, or the beautiful (if not skimped on) shot of Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson kissing.

As gorgeous as the scenery is for this film, the story is still nothing more than an old-school Woody Allen tale. In other words, we’re really just watching neurotic New Yorkers displaced to the Spanish countryside. But then again, if you like old-school Woody Allen...

There were some character flaws and logical problems, mainly an explanation of where Juan Antonio got his money to live so lavishly. After all, he’s introduced as a minor participant in the art scene. But those sort of logic leaps are ignored in a male fantasy like this one.

Finally, I cannot criticize this film without pointing out the useless and overdone narration throughout the movie. Instead of adding to the script, the narration served more to fill in lazy writing plot holes and describe obvious things that happened on screen before your very eyes. Do we really need the narrator telling us that Juan Antonio left his house in the middle of the night if we can see him leaving his house in the middle of the night?

Sadly, there’s no special features on this DVD, which is a shame considering there could have at least been some information on the background of Barcelona.

Old school Woody Allen fans and anyone who hasn’t already watched the clip of Scarlett and Penelope locking lips online.

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