Monday, August 25, 2008
Vicky Christina Barcelona
Going to a Woody Allen film in the past ten or twelve years has been a tricky proposition. He's made a few good ones and more than a few stinkers. I haven't exactly gone out of my way to get to the theater for his films as I did beginning in high school. I think the last Woody Allen film I went to see in a theater was Celebrity.
I'm not a fan of Scarlett Johansen. Even her undeniably luscious curves seemed to diminish in the wake of her flat performances. But Woody seemed to find a way to use her effectively in Match Point so I wasn't going to stay away from this one because of her. I adore Penelope Cruz, especially when she has the freedom of speaking and being Spanish.
This film evoked Allen's films of the 70s and 80s - simple situational films dealing with neurotic relationships. Though this story was a bit thinner and the cast wasn't up to the antics of the great former Allen ensembles. Which isn't to say javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson are not good actors or delivered wanting performances. I just don't think they had much to do. In films like Hannah and her Sisters, which this film seems most closely related, the energy was up, up, up. Perhaps the culture of the siesta invaded the film. I want to remind myself here that Woody isn't obligated to duplicate his past triumphs or even continue the same themes. But with a voice as distinctive as his, it's hard not to have those expectations.
At times the lead female, Rebecca Hall, sounded just like Woody - nasally, acerbic, paranoid, absurdly rational. It was charming, especially due to the brevity of the emulative moments.
I worked with Chris Messina on a film called Road in New York. We have a lot of mutual friends. It was good to see him in a sizable role on the big screen.
The film was worth seeing and enjoyable. It reminded me of how simple a film can be and how few films that accept that challenge.