Woody Allen does Latin. Yes, that’s right Latin — no more geriatric New York, no more contemporary London — but enthralls the audience with Gotti churches, gothic cathedrals, and a hint of Spanish guitar. Woody has arrived in the breathtaking lushness of Barcelona. Of course, the film opens up in the trademarked black and white credits, but Woody does the new location with such conviction that the only sense of Barcelona the audience is neglected is its smell.
Two American girls, Vicky (Rebecca Hall, The Prestige), and Christina (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation) travel to Barcelona for the summer to shack up with their friends, Mark (Kevin Dunn, Transformers), and Judy (Patricia Clarkson, Good Night, and Good Luck), spanish estate. Vicky — engaged, conservative — is there to pursue her education, while Cristina — single, creative — is soaking up in Spanish wine and culture. It’s not too long before they are approached by, the ever studly, seductive painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men) at dinner who proposes a threesome within seconds of hello. Typical Woody Allen so far. The real brilliance starts to unravel with the introduction of Juan Antonio’s ex- wife, Marie Elena (Penelope Cruz, Volver), who possesses a lightning bolt of love and hate for Juan Antonio — she tried to stab him. New relationships are made, and old relationships are jolted.
The film isn’t shy of Allen’s witicisms, and notorious one-liners. To see the luscious Cruz transition from delivering such moronic lines from spanish to english is absolutely superb. Throw in the most sensual actress of today, Scarlett, literally in the middle of it — can you say threesome? With Bardem, the god of seduction and spanish charm — guys will be envious for months — Allen created something new, even for him. An absolute homage to Barcelona, Allen conveys it beautifully.