Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

September 25, 2009

An affair to remember

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 12:52 pm

September 25, 2009

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz

Director: Woody Allen

Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a likeable enough romantic-comedy filmed in the gorgeous Spanish city referred to in the movie’s title.

Rebecca Hall stars as the prudish Vicky, and Scarlett Johansson as her saucy best friend Cristina. The girls head to Barcelona for the summer, where they’re approached by hunky Spanish artist Juan Antonio (played by Javier Bardem) who announces his desire to whisk them off for a weekend in which the three of them will eat, drink, feast on art, and make love.

Vicky, who is sensible and practical and engaged already, scoffs at the proposal. Cristina, on the other hand, always up for adventure, jumps at it. Expectedly, both girls fall for him. But before you can say the word ‘love-triangle’, in walks Juan’s eccentric ex-wife Maria Elena (played by Penelope Cruz), and the sexual permutations become even more complicated.

Held together by a witty script that essentially explores the mystery of what makes men and women tick, both in good times and bad, the film has a pleasing pace, and comes packed with the kind of smart dialogue you’ve come to expect from a Woody Allen picture.

One of my favourite lines is delivered by Cristina who’s so impatient about getting under she sheets with Juan Antonio that she exasperatedly tells him: “If you don’t start undressing me soon, this is going to turn into a panel discussion.”

The film, however, belongs to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, whose scenes together are the best here. Watching them trade barbs in Spanish is literally akin to watching sparks fly.

Cruz won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in this film, and it’s not hard to see why. She switches effortlessly between Spanish and English, she has an untamed ferociousness in her scenes with Bardem, and when she kisses Scarlett Johansson you’ll have to stop yourself from climbing up on your seat for a better view. Cruz turns Maria Elena into the most exciting character you’ve seen on screen in a long time.

Lusciously photographed,Love it may not be one of Woody Allen’s finest films. But it’s very watchable nevertheless.

Three out of five for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This is one sexy little cracker you don’t want to miss.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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