Sunday, August 17, 2008

Woody Allen's World Road Trip Continues

Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall try to talk things through in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Directed by Woody Allen
Weinstein Films
Now Playing
4 scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco

At this rate, Woody Allen may never get back home.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Allen's 42nd film as a Director, is set in Spain. So this is the fourth film in a row that he has been out of the country and not shot in his beloved New York City. This dates back to his England-based Matchpoint in 2005. His previous three films were all shot in England.

Allen does not act in this film. And this is a very good film. Which makes you wonder how great his already wonderful body of work would have been if he had taken himself as an actor out of a few more. Matchpoint was without him and it was a very good film. The next two with him...not so much. And this one is a good film too...without his acting. My theory is that when he is not acting he focuses his attention on his role as one of America's greatest directors and writing. And the results are amazing.

Because not only is he shooting in a beautiful romantic location...the cast of this movie which includes Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, and Scarlett Johannsen is one of the most gorgeous-looking set of people you are going to see in any film. Woody Allen also plays homage to some Spanish directors by his style of shooting. And his soundtrack of Classic music from Spain is the perfect backdrop for the film.

But Woody Allen is definitely there. You can hear it in the narration by Chris Evan Welch. You can hear it in the neurotic voice of Hall. And within that lies another slight problem of acting in so many of your films. We know how Woody Allen is and you can just see him acting these lines out...which to me is a little distracting.

As far as the writing is concerned...Woody Allen has written another gem. You are sucked into the story from the beginning and you don't want to let go. As in most Woody Allen films there are some interesting layers and dilemmas of modern relationships. It would be easy to say that the story is a love triangle. But it really is a multi-layered love quintangle...which I can't remember being pulled off before. This is between the Hall, Bardem, Johannsen, Cruz, and Chris Messina who plays Hall's fiance/husband.

There is no doubt about it. Penelope Cruz will get an Oscar nomination as Maria Elena. The film was already going well before she explodes on to the scene as Bardem's ex-wife about halfway in and she elevates the interest in the film way past the next level.

Quick Plot of Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Two friends, Vicky and Cristina travel to Spain. Both become involved with a Bohemian painter. And then his volatile ex-wife who he still loves comes back into the picture and all hell breaks loose.

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