Staff Pick: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008)


Vicky Cristina Barcelona Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson

“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a sensual and fun romantic comedy that succeeds on many levels while also bringing to life a series of male fantasies. Written and directed by Woody Allen, the film features an all-star cast with Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz and Rebecca Hall.

Vicky (Hall) and Cristina (Johansson) are two young Americans spending the summer in Barcelona. Juan Antonio (Bardem) is a passionate painter coming off a volatile marriage with Maria Elena (Cruz), a brilliant but troubled artist.

Juan Antonio approaches Vicky and Cristina in a restaurant, and promptly invites them to spend the weekend with him in a nearby town called Oviedo and to spend the night with him. This kicks off a series of events that has Juan Antonio sleeping with each of them, and then eventually having Maria Elena join him and Cristina in a three-way relationship.

This series of events is a far-fetched male fantasy, but film pulls this off with the charismatic Javier Bardem in the lead role as Juan Antonio. Juan Antonio’s seduction skills are impressive, and most men could learn a thing or two by watching him closely, though it’s very easy to get distracted by the three beautiful actresses playing his love interests. The setting also adds to the fantasy, with the sights and sounds of Barcelona and Spain creating the ultimate backdrop to the story.

Juan Antonio is confident and bold, but also comes across as thoughtful and sensitive. He isn’t shy about what he wants, but he’s never arrogant or pushy. Vicky and Cristina are very different, and Juan Antonio expertly adjusts his approach with each of them. Vicky is engaged to be married and values stability in relationships, while Cristina is flaky and always seeking something new and different. Meanwhile, Juan Antonio and Maria Elena are meant for each other in so many ways, but something is missing when it’s just the two of them.

This material is made for Woody Allen’s talents and the experienced cast thrives under his direction. Cruz won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as the charismatic but volatile Maria Elena. Hall and Johansson play off one another well, and all of them have sizzling chemistry with Bardem. Chris Messina is also excellent as Doug, Vicky’s strait-laced and boring fiancé.

Men and women alike will enjoy “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” though some men may want to be careful about watching this with a wife, girlfriend or significant other. If there’s something missing in your relationship, this film could lead to some second thoughts or uncomfortable conversations. On the other hand, it could also spark some fun conversations about experimenting with the relationship.

If you’re single, you should definitely watch and learn from Bardem’s character. While you may not score with three beautiful women in Barcelona, you won’t get anything if don’t make the first move. Let this film be an inspiration to take more swings and up your game.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Penelope Cruz

Vicky Cristina Barcelona Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson


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