Monday, August 03, 2009

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Woody Allen is someone I know more by reputation than experience. I have still to watch any of his earlier critically acclaimed films (Manhattan, Annie Hall, Crimes & Misdemeanours…) and probably know him better for his stand-up comedy and 'complicated' personal life.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is a superbly acted film, Javier Bardem is like a young, Spanish hybrid of Robert Downey Jr and George Clooney, honest, warm and vulnerable. Rebecca Hall plays her intelligent, uptight character with just the right amount of unease to make her subsequent actions believable without being inevitable. And Scarlett Johansson is far less annoying than she has been in a lot of her recent work.

Kevin Dunn, Chris Messina, Pablo Schreiber and Patricia Clarkson play their parts with aplomb, but the (intentional) star of the show is Penelope Cruz. Gorgeous, dishevelled and mad as a box of frogs, her character is pivotal to the film, fascinating and exasperating by turns.

To talk about the plot of the film would be to ruin it. Instead, put aside 96 minutes of your life and enjoy an example of narrative film-making at its best.

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