Vicky Christina Barcelona
Woody Allen continues to work across the pond, this time in Spain's sunny climes rather than dour London, and his tone is more upbeat. Vicky (Rebecca Hall, Kate Beckinsale's mini-me) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are two twentysometing Americans summering in Barcelona, the former finishing her dissertation, the latter just sort of kicking about. Such are their personalities: Vicky is the never impetuous woman engaged to a solidly upwardly mobile Doug (Chris Messina); Vicky is the impulsive romantic readymade to fall for the brooding artist type. So when painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) invites them for a weekend of sightseeing and hopefully carnal delights, Cristina warms to the offer while Vicky verbally balks. It's the Allen version of meeting cute and letting the romantic entanglements wind themselves into a knot. While definitely funnier than Allen's last stab at comedic dalliance--the stillborn Scoop--Barcelona is weighted down by Johansson's one-dimensional performance, which isn't that obvious until Juan's ex-wife, the live wire Maria Elena (played with sensual brio by Penelope Cruz) enters the shifting love triangles and you wish Allen wrote a movie that was nothing but Cruz and Barden having animated, heated arguments about life and love in Spanish. Frequently witty, but nothing more.