Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Another year, another execrable Woody Allen film. Our bankrupt Icelandic friends have a proverb for this kind of thing – ‘mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating.’
Young Americans Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) go to stay in Barcelona for the summer. When crazy walking cliché artist Juan Carlo (Javier Bardem) declares his lust for both of them, a series of events are put in place that may just be a bit too ‘Latin’ for either of them. When Juan’s suicidal ex wife (Penelope Cruz) turns up, things really get complicated.
It’s not particularly difficult to see what Allen is striving for in this, his fourth film shot outside the United States. Returning to the thematic and rhythmic counterpoints of Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 Smiles of a Summer Night, which he has visited throughout his career (most noticeably in his 1982 film A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy), Allen also wants us to know that he knows his French new wave cinema better than anyone, particularly the really smug middle class stuff by Eric Rohmer and Francois Truffaut. So there’s an arch unidentified narrator (Christopher Evan Welch), uneven shifts from farce to melancholy, two-dimensional characters and indifferent direction, the laziness of which is clearly supposed to suggest a nouvelle vague style disdain of Hollywood formalism. Still, compared to his previous three films, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is at least watchable so it marks a modest return to form for the Brooklyn bard.
General release from Fri 13 Feb.