A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The thing about a Woody Allen film is, whatever else happens, the characters are intriguing to hear. They tend to be smart, witty, not above epigrams. A few days before seeing "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," I viewed his "Hannah and Her Sisters" again. More than 20 years apart, both with dialogue at perfect pitch. Allen has directed more than 40 movies in about as many years and written all of them himself. Why isn't he more honored? Do we take him for granted?
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is typical of a lot of his mid-range work. It involves affluent characters at various levels of sophistication, involved in the arts and the intrigues of love. They're conflicted about right and wrong. They're undoubtedly low-level neurotics. In addition, they are attractive, amusing and living lives we might envy -- in this case, during a summer vacation in Barcelona.
Allen's discovery of Europe (of London, Paris, Venice, Barcelona) has provided new opportunities for the poet of Manhattan (and "Manhattan"). In this film, we meet two best friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who decide to spend July and August in the Barcelona home of Vicky's relatives, Judy and Mark (Patricia Clarkson and Kevin Dunn). We're briefed by a narrator that Vicky values stable relationships and is engaged to marry Doug (Chris Messina) when she returns. Cristina is more impulsive, more adventurous, not afraid to risk a little turmoil.
Vicky, we learn is majoring in "Catalan studies," which makes the capital of Catalonia a perfect destination for her. "What will you ... do with that?" Mark asks over lunch. "Oh ..." says Vicky, who clearly has no answer. "Maybe teach, or work for a museum?" Her Spanish, it can be observed, could use some work.