Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

****
USA



Even at their most piercing, Woody Allen's nervous fantasias romanticised every chunk of grit and ethnicity out of New York, so it's not unsettling that he sets this breezy cynical jaunt in a Barcelona straight out of a Lonely Planet guide. Even if the settings feel vaguely inauthentic (since you get the sense this isn't by accident, you can still suck in all their touristy splendour without feeling guilty), the same can't be said about the neuroses.

Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, an annihilating Penélope Cruz and an out-of-her-league Scarlett Johansson exchange fluids in a heightened rom-com key, but there is a deft, acute seventy-something-year-old orchestrating their shenanigans, with his mind on something real and fascinating. As for those pesky, inevitable cries of misogyny, they seem particularly out of place in this study of a thinking and layered woman with a conscience scrounging to keep afloat in a [unisex] sea of charming idiots.

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