Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Letty Aronson
Jaume Roures
Stephen Tenenbaum
Gareth Wiley
Written by Woody Allen
Narrated by Christopher Evan Welch
Starring Javier Bardem
Penélope Cruz
Scarlett Johansson
Rebecca Hall
Cinematography Javier Aguirresarobe
Editing by Alisa Lepselter
Studio MediaPro
Wild Bunch
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Weinstein Company
Optimum Releasing[1]
Release date(s) August 15, 2008 (2008-08-15)
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2]
Box office $96,408,652[3]

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a 2008 romance comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall. The plot centers on two American women, Vicky (Hall) and Cristina (Johansson), who spend a summer in Barcelona, Spain, where they meet an artist who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his mentally and emotionally unstable ex-wife María Elena (Cruz). The film was shot in Spain in Avilés, Barcelona, and Oviedo, and was Allen's fourth consecutive film shot outside of the United States.

The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, then received a rolling worldwide general release that started on August 15, 2008, in the U.S., and continued in various countries until its June 2009 release in Japan.[4] The film was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, including nominations for Bardem, Hall and Cruz in the Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress categories, and won the award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Cruz won both the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Actress in a Supporting Role. Altogether, the film won 21 out of 28 nominations.



Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visit Barcelona for the summer, staying with Vicky's distant relative Judy (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark Nash (Kevin Dunn). A narrator (Christopher Evan Welch), present throughout the film, describes the two friends: Vicky is practical and traditional in her approach to love and commitment and is engaged to the reliable Doug (Chris Messina). She is in Barcelona getting her masters in "Catalan identity." Cristina, on the other hand, is a nonconformist, spontaneous but unsure of what she wants from life or love.

At an art exhibition, they notice the artist Juan Antonio Gonzalo (Javier Bardem). Cristina is impressed with him at first sight, and grows intrigued when Judy and Mark tell the women that the artist has suffered a publicly violent relationship with his ex-wife. Later that night, the women notice him across the room in a restaurant. He approaches their table to invite them to join him for the weekend in the city of Oviedo, in a small plane he flies himself, for sight-seeing, drinking wine, and sex. Cristina accepts the offer almost at once, but Vicky refuses, strongly resenting his assumption that the two of them would agree to go to bed with him after less than five minutes' acquaintance. She eventually decides to accompany her friend anyway, mainly as she says "to protect Cristina from making a fatal mistake."

At the end of their first day, Juan Antonio asks both women to come to his room. Vicky refuses, but Cristina agrees, though she falls ill before anything happens. For the remainder of the weekend, Vicky and Juan Antonio are together while Cristina recuperates. During their trip, he tells her about his ex-wife and his tumultuous relationship with her and takes her to visit his father, an old poet, causing Vicky to change her negative first impression of him. Late at night, the drunk duo attends a Spanish guitar concert. Afterwards, Juan Antonio tells her she's beautiful, and they make love beneath a tree on the way home.

The next day, Juan takes them back to Barcelona. Vicky, feeling guilty, does not mention the incident to Cristina, and the two begin to grow apart, Vicky throwing herself into her Catalan culture studies and Cristina taking up photography. Soon Juan Antonio is dating Cristina. Meanwhile, Doug unexpectedly telephones Vicky, suggesting that they get married in Spain. She reluctantly agrees and he flies to meet her. Cristina and Juan Antonio grow closer and move in together.

One night, Cristina and Juan Antonio are awakened by a call, learning that Juan's ex-wife María Elena (Penelope Cruz) has attempted to kill herself. Juan Antonio brings her to his house, and she moves into the guest room. Though initially María Elena mistrusts Cristina, she soon grows fond of her and her photography.

Cristina soon realizes that the ex-spouses are still in love, and María Elena confides that their relationship was always loving but unstable because they were missing something, a mystery element. María Elena suggests that the missing link is, in fact, Cristina and the three become polyamorous. Cristina discloses the events of her life to Vicky, who appears secretly jealous of her friend's relationship with Juan Antonio, and to Doug, who disapproves.

As the summer winds to a close, Vicky realizes she is unsatisfied in her married life and is still attracted to Juan Antonio. She learns that Judy is also unhappy in her marriage and confides in the older woman. Judy, who sees Vicky as a younger version of herself, decides to bring Juan Antonio and Vicky together. Vicky, however, believes that Judy, through Vicky, is "trying to rewrite" her own history. Meanwhile, Cristina becomes restless and announces she is leaving Juan Antonio and María Elena. Maria does not take the news well and breaks down. Cristina spends the last weeks of the summer in France. With their "missing link" gone, Juan Antonio and María Elena break up again.

Attempting to pair up Juan Antonio and Vicky, Judy arranges for them both to be at a party. Juan Antonio begs Vicky to meet him the next day. After lying to Doug, Vicky goes to Juan's home for lunch, after which Juan tries to seduce her again. She is at the point of consenting when María Elena bursts in with a gun and begins firing wildly. As Juan Antonio tries to calm his sobbing wife, he accidentally shoots Vicky in the hand. Vicky shouts at both of them, saying they are insane and she could never live like this, and leaves.

When Cristina returns from France, Vicky confesses the entire story to her. Cristina says she never knew that Vicky felt that way about Juan Antonio, and she (Cristina) wishes she could have helped her. Doug never learns what truly happened. As the three Americans return home, Vicky goes back to her married life and Cristina remains where she started, knowing only what she doesn't want.


The Spanish actor Joan Pera, who dubbed Allen's voice in his previous films, makes a cameo appearance.[5]


In 2007, controversy arose in Catalonia (Spain) because the film was partially funded with public money: Barcelona's city hall provided one million euro and the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) half a million, or ten percent of the film's budget.[2]

This was the third time Johansson and Allen worked together, following Match Point and Scoop. This film also marked the second time Johansson and Hall worked together, the first time being in The Prestige.[citation needed]

The movie featured several paintings by the Catalan artist, Agustí Puig. Puig was even commissioned to create a painting for the movie, the result being La Protectora II, though it was not used on set.[6]

Critical reception

Box office

As of July 2009, the film grossed $96,408,652 worldwide; in relation to its $15 million budget,[2] it is one of Allen's most profitable films.[7]


Vicky Cristina Barcelona garnered the best reviews Allen received since his Oscar-nominated 2005 film Match Point, (also starring Johansson) earning a rating of 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.[8]

Scott Tobias wrote in the Onion AV Club that it was "a witty and ambiguous movie that's simultaneously intoxicating and suffused with sadness and doubt".[9] Richard Roeper suggested that Cruz should receive an Academy Award nomination for her role.[10] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the film as "the work of a confident and mature artist", referring to Allen.[11] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote "Although Vicky Cristina trips along winningly, carried by the beauty of its locations and stars — and all the gauzy romanticism those enchanted places and people imply — it reverberates with implacable melancholy, a sense of loss."[12] Richard Corliss ended his review of the film with "The movie has neither the sardonic heft of Max Ophüls's La Ronde nor the emotional precision of Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night, two films that also dance the change-partners gavotte. But Vicky Cristina Barcelona is so engaging so much of the time that it feels like a modest rejuvenation: evidence that a summer in Spain can do wonders for a writer-director who may not have outlived his prime."[13] Ian Freer of Empire gave the film 4/5, and wrote "within Allen's recent output, Vicky Cristina is a highlight. See it for beautiful locales, an ambivalent look at human relationships and a clutch of great performances, especially from Cruz."[14]

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top-ten lists of the best films of 2008.[15]

Awards and nominations

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Woody Allen won his first Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Penélope Cruz won the Best Supporting Actress award from numerous organizations including: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Goya Awards, the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the Southeastern Film Critics Association.


  1. ^ Vicky Cristina Barcelona Sky Gala[dead link] from the London Film Festival website
  2. ^ a b c "Allen film funding angers Spanish". BBC News. 2007-07-30. 
  3. ^ "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Box Office Mojo. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  4. ^ Release dates for Vicky Cristina Barcelona from the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ (2007-04-12). Woody Allen rewards Spanish alter ego with role in new film. The Times. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  6. ^ "Agustí Puig - Human Traces - Gallery DeNovo Exhibition Information". Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  7. ^ Vicky Cristina Barcelona at Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ "Vick Cristina Barcelona". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Onion AV Club. Retrieved August 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Ebert & Roeper - Vicky Cristina Barcelona". Buena Vista TV. Retrieved August 15, 2008. [dead link]
  11. ^ Mick LaSalle (August 15, 2008). "Movie review: 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  12. ^ The Portrait of Two Ladies, a review from The New York Times August 27, 2011
  13. ^ Woody Allen's Barcelona Summer of Love, from Time magazine August 15, 2008
  14. ^ Vicky Cristina Barcelona by Ian Freer of Empire
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Film Critic Top Ten Lists: 2008 Critics' Picks". Metacritic. Retrieved January 11, 2009. 

External links

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