Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) - ★½

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Chris Messina, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

This movie really bugged me. There were so many things that frustrated me about Vicky Cristina Barcelona that I don't know where to start.

Vicky and Cristina are best friends from America who go to Barcelona for a holiday together. They are approached by a mysterious man named Juan, who propositions them for sex and a flight on his aeroplane. While Vicky is against it, Cristina drags her along and they go with this man to a beautiful place. Thus, love ensues as both of the women fall for Juan.

Johansson played Cristina, a character that had nothing to do except say "Yes" "No" and take a few pictures. She was a very bland doormat that brought very little to the movie. Rebecca Hall played Vicki, an irritatingly analytical girl that threw caution to the wind when that's completely "out of character" for her. Javier Bardem played Juan, a sexy Spanish guy that doesn't learn a thing from the experience and gets to sleep with three very beautiful women. Penelope Cruz played the crazy and artistic ex-wife of Juan.

To me, the worst thing above all was the complete lack of chemistry between the main characters (excluding Cruz, who performed rings around the cast). Vicky and Cristina did not look like best friends at all to me, if anything they seemed more suited to disliking each other. Johansson had zero chemistry with Bardem, and neither did Hall. There was no spark, no realism, just nothing there to grab my interest. They gave cold performances with underdeveloped characters. We're told what these girls are like at the start, but they don't reinforce anything because their personalities are just so bland.

Juan just grossed me out the whole time. I still love Javier Bardem, but this is the worst performance I've seen of his so far. The lack of chemistry is as much his fault as theirs. I hated how his character always waited for the girls to have a few glasses of wine in them before he propositioned them for sex. Why couldn't he just wait until they were sober? It just all seemed so sleazy to me. He is portrayed as the enlightened, artistic, wonderful soul that invigorates the lives of Vicky and Cristina. To me, he was just a talented sleaze that got to sleep with beautiful women.

Cruz was impressive, but not enough to warrant an Oscar.
Cruz won an Oscar for this movie and I have no idea how that is possible. I estimate her time on screen as about 10 minutes collectively. She was marvelous, sparking my interest ever so slightly whenever she was on screen. The fact that she beat Amy Adams (Doubt), and Taraji P. Henson (Benjamin Button) is despicable. Even though she was the strongest aspect of the film, it wasn't even worthy of a nomination. This is coming from a huge fan of Penelope Cruz!

What annoyed me most about the film was the way Woody Allen injected a bit of himself into every character. They speak with overly long sentences, with overly long words, and with an obviously fake artistic air about them. It just completely sucked me out of the film, because I thought that Woody Allen might as well be sitting at the table rather than these sorry excuses for characters.

I also found the music to be very repetitive and out of place in certain scenes. You know they've done a bad job in the editing room when you're sitting there thinking the music doesn't match the scene. They could have had a beautiful, romantic score to highlight Barcelona... or at least something that's nice to listen to. Instead they just repeated the same comedic score over and over, which just irritated me to the point where I wanted to mute the movie.

As you can tell, I really did not enjoy Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I can see that there are enjoyable aspects for some people, but they just didn't appeal to me. So far this is my least favorite Woody Allen film. There were too many things wrong for me to enjoy the story. In fact, the story was very run-of-the-mill stuff too, so that's yet another negative. I give my score for Cruz's performance and the cinematography. I found everything else reductive, and this movie was a waste of my time.

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