Vicky (played by Rebecca Hall) and her friend Cristina (by Scarlett Johansson) are Americans on holiday together in Barcelona. They are eager for an exciting time and become involved with artist Juan Antonio (by Javier Bardem). Although they are friends, the girls are quite different – Vicky is a smart and conservative woman about to get married; Cristina is more of a free-spirit and she is keen for sexual exploration. Juan is flirty and naughty and Cristina is totally fascinated and seduced by him and his open lifestyle. She starts a relationship with him which is quickly complicated by the appearance of his firey and passionate artist ex-wife, Maria Elena (by Penelope Cruz). The relationships of this foursome and the activities during their holiday play out amongst the stunning backdrop, grand architecture and total allure of Barcelona.
The most wonderful thing about this movie is Barcelona. It just looks stunning throughout the movie – it presents such a wonderful Spanish lifestyle, you can’t help but want to visit to take it in for yourself. The story is predictable, the romance and interactions are off-beat, a little bizarre and somewhat entertaining. I think the Latin passion, caricatures and interactions between Juan Antonio and Maria Elena add the spice and make all the difference in the movie. The performances of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz are very good on that front. Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall are only so-so. Also, the movie has is a voiceover which may be a bit superfluous. My most enduring thoughts are more about the total beauty of Barcelona, rather than about the movie itself, but it is quite nice. Watch it if you’d like to enjoy a slice of lovely, relaxed, European summer life.
In 2009, Penelope Cruz became the first Spanish-born actress to win an Oscar by taking the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in this movie.
Made 2008. Directed by Woody Allen