Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Director: Woody Allen
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 3.0

So this is what Rohmer is like in English and a little Español (leave it to Francophile Woody to reference the French auteur)! Two American women go to Spain for the summer - Vicky (Rebecca Hall, tall and lovely) to explore Catalan culture and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) to look for love and adventure - before being seduced by a suave painter (Javier Bardem, having fun with the stereotypical 'Latin lover' role) and returning to the States more experienced but less certain about their lives. Unlike some of Allen's flops in the last couple years, this one is actually well-cast, compensating for the irksome voice-over work and tame plotting - like the Rohmer pictures, there are humorous moments but it's not exactly a comedy, and what humor there is belongs to a marvelously batty Penélope Cruz (no doubt channeling her years dating Tom Cruise). One aspect that's a little troubling in this - and in other Allen pictures ... and, incidentally, in Rohmer's films - is where the money's coming from: Bardem has access to a private jet, infinite free time, a gorgeous home, the income to wine and dine the women he meets, yet he's just a painter; likewise, the women in the picture don't need to work either. Of course, Allen's observant, and he shows the two capitalists of the picture (Rebecca Hall's husband and Patricia Clarkson's husband) as being work-and-golf obsessed men who their wives don't really love and get cheated on without realizing it (in a smarmy visual gag, both wear Lacoste polos in the same exact color). The look of exasperation on the women's faces as they leave Barcelona tells the whole story.