A journey in, on, at and among Love - this one is soooo NOT Woody Allen - in that its romantic to the extent of spoiling you with wine, women and this one man. It is passionate without showing too much. It is complicated - (aah! That's the Woody in the Allen aspect, right?) What a delight to catch this film on a saturday afternoon, when the house is quiet, too quiet...that I thought, for so many seconds, that my room transformed into one of the dens of the spanish painter Antonio (an exceptionally attractive AND non-attractive man, and when you see the film you will know why!).
Vicky & Cristina are best friends and similar in everything except their approach to love. On a break to Barcelona, Antonio enters their lives with a straightforward proposal of 'life is dull, why not make the most of it - some sight seeing, some wine and we (pointing to both the women) can make love!" While the romantic, always impulsive Cristina agrees readily to this adventure that is set to make her adrenalin throb, Vicky, the steady, committed one holds her own, until.... ....
And every breathing moment breaks into a spontaneous spell of screams and chatter with the un-announced arrival of Antonio's ex-better-half, Maria Elena (a truly Oscar deserving performance by Penelope Cruz - just watch her swallow the camera alive in her white dress, wine in hand...) I totally enjoyed every minute, as lines go out of control in this emotion and passion ride, steered with equal fervor by all the players. In this mix, writer Allen places the thin but clear line of real love that actually blooms but is unrequited ... No I'm not telling between who and who! Not because there is any suspense to this tale, as one would expect...but because... it is LOVE - Sigh! See what I mean, when I said this was NOT a Woody Allen film, but it IS. I mean, well, yeah...!
Rebecca Hall as Vicky and Scarlett Johansson as Cristina breathe life into their varying personalities. The reason why Allen cast a man with a face like Javier Bardem (who won the Supporting Actor (Oscar) for playing the cold blooded killer in No Country for Old Men) in a romantic tale of mutiple love, women and tender love at that, with one of the women being domineering - has to do with the fact that two different kinds of women must find him attractive and yet not so, and this being in and out thing (yes, it is almost like what it sounds!) needs a man with a face that will haunt you, tease you, linger on you and take you over, a face you wont forget, a face that spells exotic - and that is why Allen Genius has cast him in this narrative of cross-connected lovers.
The film has some soothing visuals (thanks to Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe), some awesome tracks with a Spanish band for music (specially the soundtrack focuses on instrumental flamenco guitar) - and some of the best settings for romance in recent times.
Some die hard Allen fans may not find his trademark lines, the dark humor etc - but watch closely, and you will find it in the many turns that this ride takes you on!