Vicky Cristina Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the good Woody Allen movies. It’s almost one of the great ones. What’s so refreshing to me, I think, is the way in which it doesn’t feel like a normal Woody Allen film. Even his last great film, the dark-as-night Match Point, was easily detectable with its rhythmic dialogue. Vicky Cristina Barcelona has many of the Woody Allen echoes, but it’s so alive with an exotic passion, you’ll hardly notice. The script is sharp, but the performances and the direction are even better. I think it may be Allen’s best-directed film since Sweet and Lowdown. He may be 72 years old, but he lets the camera and the cuts add a youthful dimension to the storytelling.
She may portray the one female principal without her name in the title, but Penelope Cruz steals the movie. Her bilingual turn as an emotionally distraught lover, is pure gold. It’s another classic Woody Allen female performance. Everyone is electric, and Rebecca Hall (as Vicky) brings home a star-making appearance. If the film suffers from anything, it’s from playing it safe. It’s rated PG-13, which should tell you going in, that this erotic comedy isn’t going to be very erotic. It should have been, it could have been. If Allen was unfraid to get violent/twisted with Match Point and Cassandra’s Dream recently, what happened here? I’m not saying it needed to become Last Tango in Paris, but there’s so much sexual energy in the story, that it feels like things got watered down at some point in production. It probably wasn’t the location that did it. In a film full of beautiful people, none of them compare to the seductive scenery that is Spain in the summer.