Life is the ultimate work of art.
Josep Maria Domènech
Running Time: 96 minutes
US Certificate: 12A UK Certificate: PG-13
Country: United States
I hadnt seen Javier Bardem since I watched No Country for Old Men, and seeing him here as the I ooze sexy Juan Antonio just proves his range. That aside, its hard for me to recommend Woody Allens latest chatfest, but Im also not tossing it out on the street. Barcelona is shot beautifully, the cast nails their roles, and its not necessarily a bad story. The whole things kinda lacking in heart, though, and for all its exhortations of love, it comes off hollow and pointless.
Best friends Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are on their way to spend a summer in Spain. Vickys engaged to be married to her loving and stable boyfriend back in the States, while Cristina only knows that what she wants is the opposite of that. The total epitome of the opposite of that is sensual painter Juan Antonio (Bardem), who manages to sweep up all the women in his pathincluding his fiery ex-wife María Elena (Penélope Cruz)into a tangled web of lust, love, and confusion.
Im just not a Woody Allen type of girl. I love dialogue and neurosis just as much as anybody, but Ive never bought in to the whole Allen motif of romantic angst. There are praiseworthy performances from all the majors and supportings hereBardem, of course, Hall, Johanssonbut the only character that ever comes to life in any developed way is Cruzs volatile ex-wife, which I suspect is more because of what she brings to the role and less to the role as written. Every part seems written as a summarypractical female who longs to loosen up for love; romantic artsy blonde willing to experiment; hot guy with an accent who paints and seducesbut not just written, tecnically well written. Banter flies around and everyone is just so very well spoken, but theres nothing below the surface, no complexity to characters who never seem to learn anything or do anything but talk in big circles. Also, for a romantic comedy, its not especially romantic or comedicmore just mediocre. I wanted to like it, and there are a few reasons to recommend itlike I said, Cruz is spectacular, and the beauty of Barcelona and its color and architecture are a sight to see. But this isnt a travel video, and Cruz doesnt even show up until over 40 minutes in. Ultimately, its an unsatisfyingly shallow dive into the lives of people with no depth.
It's Got: Awesome Penélope Cruz, Sexy Javier Bardem, Very Pretty City.
It Needs: Heart, Soul, Depth.
Alternatives:Cassandra's Dream, Hannah and Her Sisters, Match Point
Not necessarily a bad movie, but despite many solid performances, theres ultimately a disconnect in this supposed romantic comedy that isnt really much of either.