Vicky Cristina Barcelona
|Vicky Cristina Barcelona|
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Edited by||Alisa Lepselter|
|Box office||$96.4 million|
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a 2008 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. The plot centers on two American women, Vicky and Cristina, who spend a summer in Barcelona, where they meet an artist, Juan Antonio, who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena. The film was shot in Spain in Barcelona, Avilés, and Oviedo, and was Allen's fourth consecutive film shot outside the United States.
The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, then received a rolling worldwide general release that started on August 15, 2008, in the United States, and continued in various countries until its June 2009 release in Japan. The film received praise from critics, particularly for Penelope Cruz's performance, and was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, including nominations for Bardem, Hall, and Cruz for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, and won the award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Cruz won both the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Vicky and Cristina visit Barcelona for the summer, staying with Vicky's distant relative Judy and her husband Mark. While the two are great friends, Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment and is engaged to the reliable Doug, whereas Cristina imagines herself to be a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.
At an art exhibition, Cristina is intrigued by artist Juan Antonio, who Judy says has suffered a violent relationship with his ex-wife. Later, he brazenly approaches the two women to invite them to join him right away for the weekend in the city of Oviedo, in a small plane he flies himself, for sight-seeing, fine eating and drinking, and hopefully, lovemaking. Cristina is won over by the offer almost at once, but Vicky is unimpressed and reluctant; she, however, eventually decides to accompany her friend anyway, mainly to watch over her.
At the end of their first day, Vicky refuses to join Juan Antonio in his hotel room, citing her fidelity to Doug, but Cristina accepts his invitation immediately. Before the lovemaking starts, Cristina suddenly falls ill with digestive complaints, and is put to bed, with food poisoning. Vicky and Juan Antonio proceed to spend the weekend together alone while they wait for Cristina to recuperate. Vicky gradually changes her opinion of Juan Antonio as he tells her about his tumultuous relationship with his former wife, María Elena. Vicky accompanies him to visit his father, an old poet, and then becomes deeply moved by a Spanish guitar performance later that evening. She finally succumbs to Juan Antonio's advances as they walk through a grove of trees in the dark. The next day, with Cristina recovered, the three of them fly back to Barcelona.
Feeling guilty, Vicky does not mention the incident to Cristina, and the two begin to grow apart. Vicky starts throwing herself into her studies while Cristina and Juan Antonio take up a relationship. Cristina then moves in with Juan Antonio and begins to discover more about his past. After learning that María Elena attempted to kill herself, Juan Antonio takes her to his home, where Cristina already lives. After some defiance, the two women grow fond of each other. Cristina realizes that the ex-spouses are still in love, and María Elena suggests that Cristina may be the element that can give balance and stability to their relationship. All three become romantically involved with one another.
In the meantime, Vicky is joined in Spain by an enthusiastic Doug and the two get married. When Cristina describes her new life with Juan Antonio to Vicky, Vicky becomes secretly jealous, and after a few other awkward moments, she realizes she is unsatisfied in her married life and is still attracted to Juan Antonio. Learning that Judy is similarly unhappy in her marriage, she confides to her, and Judy, who sees her younger self in Vicky, decides to bring Juan Antonio and Vicky together. Meanwhile, Cristina becomes restless and at some point decides to leave Juan Antonio and María Elena; without her, their relationship quickly falls apart again.
As the summer winds to a close, Judy arranges for Juan Antonio and Vicky to meet at a party. Juan Antonio begs Vicky to meet him again privately before leaving Spain, which she finally accepts, lying to Doug in the process. At his home, Juan Antonio seduces and wins Vicky over again, but they are interrupted by María Elena who bursts in with a gun, firing wildly as Juan Antonio tries to calm her. Vicky gets shot in the hand in the process, and leaves, shouting they are insane and she could never live like this. She confesses the entire story to Cristina, who never realized how Vicky felt about Juan Antonio, and wishes she could have helped her. Doug, Vicky and Cristina return to the United States; Doug never learns what truly happened, Vicky goes back to her married life, and Cristina is back where she started, still unsure of what she wants from life or love.
- Javier Bardem as Juan Antonio Gonzalo
- Penélope Cruz as María Elena
- Scarlett Johansson as Cristina
- Rebecca Hall as Vicky
- Patricia Clarkson as Judy Nash
- Kevin Dunn as Mark Nash
- Chris Messina as Doug
- Pablo Schreiber as Ben
- Carrie Preston as Sally
- Zak Orth as Adam
- Julio Perillán as Charles
- Christopher Evan Welch as narrator
In 2007, controversy arose in Catalonia (Spain) because the film was partially funded with public money; Barcelona's city hall provided one million euro and the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) half a million, or ten percent of the film's budget.
This was the third time Johansson and Allen worked together, following Match Point (2005) and Scoop (2006). This also marked the second time Johansson and Hall worked together, the first time being in The Prestige (2006).
Vicky Cristina Barcelona garnered the best reviews Allen received since his Academy Award-nominated 2005 film Match Point (also starring Johansson), particularly for Cruz's performance. The film has an approval rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 212 reviews, with an average score of 6.90/10. The site's consensus reads: "A beguiling tragicomedy, Vicky Cristina Barcelona charms with beautiful views of the Spanish city and a marvelously well-matched cast". Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Scott Tobias wrote in The A.V. Club that it was "a witty and ambiguous movie that's simultaneously intoxicating and suffused with sadness and doubt". Richard Roeper suggested that Cruz should receive an Academy Award nomination for her role. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the film as "the work of a confident and mature artist", referring to Allen. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote "Although Vicky Cristina trips along winningly, carried by the beauty of its locations and stars — and all the gauzy romanticism those enchanted places and people imply — it reverberates with implacable melancholy, a sense of loss." Richard Corliss ended his review of the film with "The movie has neither the sardonic heft of Max Ophüls's La Ronde nor the emotional precision of Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night, two films that also dance the change-partners gavotte. But Vicky Cristina Barcelona is so engaging so much of the time that it feels like a modest rejuvenation: evidence that a summer in Spain can do wonders for a writer-director who may not have outlived his prime." S. Williams of Momzone magazine singled out Johansson's performance for praise, writing, "Johansson's acting is syrup: fluid and sweet." Ian Freer of Empire gave the film 4 out of 5, and wrote "within Allen's recent output, Vicky Cristina is a highlight. See it for beautiful locales, an ambivalent look at human relationships and a clutch of great performances, especially from Cruz."
The film appeared on many critics' top-ten lists of the best films of 2008 including;
- 5th – David Denby, The New Yorker
- 5th – Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter
- 5th – Bob Mondello, NPR
- 7th – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
- 7th – Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club
- 7th – Kyle Smith, New York Post
- 7th – Steve Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- 8th – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
- 9th – Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- 10th – Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun
Awards and nominations
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