Vicky Christina Barcelona

The nominations:

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Penelope Cruz

The Black-and-White:

A review by Moviegirl

Here’s the very short synopsis from wikipedia:

The plot centers around two American women, Vicky and Cristina, spending a summer in Barcelona. There, the women meet an artist, who is attracted to both yet still enamored of his unstable ex-wife.

A lot of people liked this film. It won the Golden Globe for best picture-musical/comedy for 2008. Many many of the country’s biggest newspapers put it on their top 10 lists.

To be honest, I can’t figure out why. Of all the things I have said about this movie since watching it last night, “unwatchable” is probably the most charitable (and printable).

Perhaps I am just tired of Woody Allen. Even though he never appears onscreen his presence is everywhere. The narrator and every one of the main characters except Javier Bardem seems to be doing his or her own Woody Allen impression — the words, the delivery, the hand gestures.

Javier Bardem was fine (apparently 180 degrees away from his No Country Oscar-winning performance, which I didn’t see) — although it was really distracting to keep wondering what Denny Duquette was doing in Barcelona and talking with a Catalan accent.

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Seriously.
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What was I saying? Oh right. The subject matter (sex, fear, insecurity) is also typical Allen fare. There was a time when a screenwriting nomination was all but automatic for a new Woody Allen film — he’s been nominated for screenwriting 13 times (and won twice). But VCB was passed over, and rightly so. There was nothing fresh or interesting here — it all felt like a caricature of his other movies about neurosis, New Yorkers, and nubile girls, just set in a prettier place.

Penelope Cruz does not appear until well over halfway into the film, and her performance provides some interest from the plodding, whiny dialogue. Unfortunately, her character is both a cliche and stereotype — everything you wanted to know about Latin divorcees but were afraid to ask. Compared with the other actors in the film, I think she is indeed the standout. Compared with the other nominees in the best supporting actress category, however, I think she is the longshot.

It’s been such a long time since I’ve liked a Woody Allen film that I was really hoping that this could be the year. Alas, this seemed more like a “we have to pay the interior decorator’s bill” effort than an interest in telling a compelling story.

Well, maybe next year.

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