Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a sexy, funny divertissement that passes as enjoyably as an idle summer’s afternoon in the titular Spanish city. With Javier Barden starring as a bohemian artist involved variously with Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall, pic offers potent romantic fantasy elements for men and women and a cast that should produce the best commercial returns for a Woody Allen film since Match Point. And, in the bargain, if Barcelona wants even more visitors than it already attracts, this film will supply them.
Just as London did when Allen went there for Match Point, the Catalan capital serves as an evident stimulus for the director. Even if the film provides a strictly tourist’s view of the city (a perspective justified by the scenario, in fact), and one just as upscale and heedless of money as ever for Allen, VCB is by several degrees more hot-blooded than his usual norm, thanks especially due to the palpable chemistry of Bardem and Cruz in the second half.