Today I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson.
The writer and director of this film, Woody Allen, is to me the Prince (as in Artist-formerly-known-as) of the film industry: he has a writing style all his own, he's quirky, he's short, he's neurotic and he cranks out more material than the vast majority of his contemporaries. The material-cranking is a good thing for those who are entertained by everything he does; not so much for true film connoisseurs. But the law of probability does work in his favor from time to time, and this movie is no exception.
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Johansson) are American friends who spend a summer in Barcelona. Early in the trip they meet Juan Antonio (Bardem), a Bohemian artist who has eyes for both of them. Though Cristina is the one clearly suited for him, the soon-to-marry Vicky becomes conflicted by her feelings for him as well. And that's all before Juan's ex-wife Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz), who is prone to attempting murder and suicide, returns to her former home.
There are so many minor twists and turns that take place, it would be spoiling the film to reveal them, but I will say that in the true spirit of Woody Allen, there is plenty of sex, love, passion, confusion, indifference and unsatisfaction among the characters.
The movie moves at a pleasantly quick place, breezing through Spain as if on a cruise of the country, and the performances are excellent by all. Bardem is especially charming with his refreshing comedic deliverance during scenes with Cruz.
All in all, this dialogue-driven ride is just a story about a few friends and lovers, but it's certainly a fun tale to witness.