Critics are so hard to understand. So many of them gave Woody Allen’s film Cassandra’s Dream bad reviews last year. I loved it. So many critics are praising this movie, and it’s only mildly interesting.
I thought Allen got his grove back when with Match Point in 2005. Even Scoop, which got poor reviews, I loved.
There’s a narration in this provided by Christopher Evan Welch. Not only is his voice monotone and boring, he’s telling us what characters think and do. The movie then shows us exactly what we were just told. What was the point of that? There’s one scene where a joke is being told at a dinner table. The narrator comes in just before we get to hear the punchline. Perhaps that’s because Allen didn’t write a punchline for it. It’s really lazy filmmaking. And at times it just comes across as a really pretentious picture.
Since it’s an Allen movie, we have all the sex, love, love triangles, and psychological stuff. It’s a comedy, that isn’t all that funny.
You couldn’t ask for a better cast. Even with the Woody Allen scandal, Hollywood’s biggest and best clamor to work with him.
Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), are Americans spending a summer in Barcelona. It’s strange, because Rebecca Hall has conversations as if she’s Annie Hall. In fact, these two are having the same types of conversations we heard Woody Allen have with Mia Farrow and Diane Keaton; yet they were original then, and a lot funnier.
Vicky is doing research for her Master’s thesis. Cristina is there to take photos, and enjoy the country. At dinner one night, they meet a painter named Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). You thought he was scary with that bad haircut and cattle gun – just imagine what you’d do if a man walked over to your table and told you and your friend he wanted a threesome. I’m guessing you’d run the other way (even if he did look like, well, Javier Bardem). Yet Cristina thinks this is a great idea. Vicky isn’t so sure, especially since she has a fiancé in New York. Yet, off they go. Of course, they both fall madly in love with him. The love triangle soon becomes a love square, when his ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) shows up. Since she had a suicide attempt, he can’t just leave her. It was the same problem Clint Eastwood had in Play Misty For Me, and Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction. Bardem also does better art work when she’s around. Ahhh, what’s a boy to do? Well, all three of these gorgeous women, apparently.
That doesn’t mean some of this dialogue isn’t interesting. And you’re looking at beautifully shot towns and the scenery is lovely. I just think the characters could’ve been a little more interesting.
Does the title Vicky Cristina Barcelona remind anybody else of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman?
Allen has almost hit the 100 mark for movies, and this is the 4th one done away from New York. It’s the 3rd one he’s used Johansson in (Scoop, Matchpoint). The problem with it is it’s just not that funny as a comedy, and not a very compelling drama. It’s like the time you went on a vacation that cost a little more than you wanted to spend, and wasn’t as fun as you hoped it would be. Yet you don’t mind looking through your photo album at the pictures you took there.
This gets a C-.