Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vicky Christina Barcelona

The latest offering from Woody Allen is a prime example of lazy film making. (And my selection to review it is lazy as well since it was a request from all of my reader, she really demanded more than requested).

Vicky Christina Barcelona takes some of the more talented actors in the business today and a solid, unique storyline but somehow manages to make the whole thing boring and a chore to watch.

The movie begins with a narrator whose voice is just mildly annoying. As it carries on, listening to the narrator becomes arduous and starts to really grate. It seems that Allen decides that instead of giving us information through developed dialogue and plot, he just has the narrator do it for him.

Dialogue is consistently the strong point of any Woody Allen film, and this one should be no exception, but the character dialogue becomes secondary to the narrator beating the audience over the head with inane details as if the viewer were unable to understand what is happening on the screen.

The plot is interesting enough to keep you there through all of this. Christina (Scarlett Johanssen) runs off and falls in love with an artist (Javier Bardem) who has a sordid history with a wild ex-wife (Penelope Cruz) who just happens to pop back in to his life again. After this cliched plot line emerges, Allen actually takes it to a less predictable place (which will not be spoilered here) and rescues the story.

The performances are exactly what should be expected from Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johanssen, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz. All good actors. All delivering excellent performances. The supporting cast also pull through to round out the film with overall near perfect acting. This might be attributed to Allen's directing or to the casting director, but each actor seems perfect for the character they are playing. One of the most effective is Chris Messina as Doug, Vicky (Hall)'s fiancee who is the most dull, annoying person ever, which gives a fantastic look at Vicky's complex situation as she yearns for stability but also wonders about her best friend Christina's vivacious love life.

The story is intriguing and would have made a solid movie if the narrator had just shut up ten minutes into the movie. Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, Allen could have spent a good amount more screen time on telling his narrative without the obnoxious voiceover.

Overall Vicky Christina Barcelona gets a C, but if they had put in the effort to show off those fantastic actors and decent dialogue it would have scored higher.
--John Berry, Online Editor--


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