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Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona review

Occasionally endearingly audacious, Woody Allen's screenplay for Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a further riff on the unique, unpredictable nature of romantic relationships among the human race. His observation of the female characters (and not just the leads) is spot on and is the engine for the dramatic core of the story. And a good story it is: jostled along by their differences, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) take us into the undulating world of female friendship when it comes into conflict with romance. But Allen avoids the many traps inherent in this scenario, and the two actresses deliver first rate performances; these are young women at their professional peak and worth seeing. (I have a minor reservation about some of Johansson's mannerisms which have been uncannily Woody Allen-esque since their collaboration on Match Point and especially Scoop.)

Javier Bardem creates a likeable and credible Juan Antonio, a passionate, life loving Spanish artist who is both a womaniser and a sincere lover. Bardem manages to fuse the various elements of this character so that it offers a fresh perspective on the Latino lover on the loose. He also adds a refinement that sits well with his macho persona and creative urge, expressed in bold strokes on the canvas.

And then there is the explosive performance by Penelope Cruz as Maria Elena, ex-wife, competing artist and temperamental fireball with dangerous tendencies. Cruz is fabulous here, slinky kitten one minute, volcanic eruption the next, all absolutely credible within her complex character.

Barcelona and the gorgeous town of Oviedo where the first weekend triggers the romantic complications are both beautifully shot. If I learnt that the movie was at least partly financed by either or both places, I would not be surprised. And cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe has painted the exteriors in a honeyed glow, while Allen's choice of music is once again of the highest quality.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/

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Chatelin Bruno
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