"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008) is a vivacious and charming comedy-drama starring Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson as Vicky and Cristina, a pair of American friends who travel to Spain to stay with Vicky's cousin Judy (Patricia Clarkson) for the summer. Attending an art exhibition with Judy, the two young women first encounter artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a seductive lothario who propositions them in the most unexpected of manners.
Approaching Vicky and Cristina at their dinner table after the show, Juan Antonio invites them both on a furtive escape to his hometown of Oviedo, where he promises to show them the sights while wining and dining them, with the open intention of bedding them both. The conservative Vicky is resistant to his offer, yet it is the more impulsive Cristina who succumbs to his charms—thereby laying the groundwork for a complicated love triangle. With the incursion of Juan Antonio's volatile former wife María Elena (Penélope Cruz) into the mix, it soon becomes a tale of complex entanglement and impassioned histrionics.
Written and directed by the inimitable Woody Allen ("Annie Hall", "Crimes and Misdemeanors"), "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a light and fanciful tale of romance, pleasure and self-reflection. A carefree vibe carries the storyline along, with the four leads breathing life into Allen's script, as they play out their often comical liaisons and imbricated relations. Neither taking itself too seriously nor falling back on undue cliché, it remains a fresh and refreshing tale of departure—one of the finest of Allen's late career.
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