Posted by · 3:32 am · May 18th, 2008

I’m sure I’m not the only one who heaved a sigh of relief after reading some of the reviews of Woody Allen’s latest, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which recently premiered out of competition at Cannes. The consensus appears to be that the film, while unlikely to enter the canon of his greatest, is an attractive, frothy entertainment.

In his Variety review, Todd McCarthy puts it thus:

“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a sexy, funny divertissement that passes as enjoyably as an idle summer’s afternoon in the titular Spanish city … 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.”

McCarthy is particularly enamoured of Penelope Cruz’s performance, deeming her to be “dynamite” in the film, and extending the Anna Magnani comparisons that we first started hearing when “Volver” emerged two years ago.

Happily, The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt is equally enthusiastic about the film, and is most impressed by its Spanish stars:

The film belongs to Bardem and Cruz. This is a Spanish version of “Private Lives,” a couple that cannot live apart or together, whose love will always burst into fiery combat. Their scenes are some of the funniest Allen has ever put on film, and the culmination of this love/hate tango is not to be missed.

I had a good feeling about this project from the get-go, but then I admit I’m one of those die-hard Allen supporters who maintains that “Melinda and Melinda” is a misunderstood almost-great, and tried his damnedest to find something – anything – to like about “Hollywood Ending.” So I’m thrilled to learn that this is likely to be one of those Allen treats I can enjoy guilt-free, without having to construct a defence case for it afterwards.

As for awards prospects, after those notices, I’m going to go ahead and put Cruz on the lower rungs of my ladder of Best Supporting¬†Actress contenders. Woody’s films have long been good to women in this category, and while the competition looks crowded this year,¬†a slight but appealing performance from a well-liked star is often the one left standing when the bigger guns misfire. As for Allen himself, any film of his that is generally given at least a B+ by the critics is a contender for a Best Original Screenplay nomination, so I’m going to plunge in and put him on my list. What can I say? The sun’s out (at last) in London, one of my favourite auteurs appears to be back on track, and I’m in a generous mood.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 5-18-2008 at 7:35 am

    Chad said...

    Let me guess. It’s a “return to form” and his best film since Crimes and Misdemeanors. Heard it before every single one of his last ten crappy movies.

  • 2 5-18-2008 at 8:44 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Nobody’s calling it a return to his best form, Chad – the word simply seems to be that it’s entertaining and well-executed on its own (fairly slight) terms. After the disappointing one-two of “Scoop” and “Cassandra’s Dream” (neither of which were labelled a return to form by anyone), that’s enough to make me happy.

  • 3 5-18-2008 at 10:43 am

    Joseph said...

    I think Cruz is Supporting, at least that’s how everyone else says she is.

  • 4 5-18-2008 at 4:08 pm

    Jamie said...

    Saw the movie yesterday morning at Cannes and Penelope Cruz is definitely in the Supporting Actress category and definitely the presumptive favorite. She completely steals the movie and her scenes with Javier Bardem are wonderful. They circumvent the language barrier by having a lot of her more explosive dialogue in Spanish.

    I am also biased toward all things Woody Allen but I thought it was a reallyreally good movie and the audience I saw it with at the Palais was enthusiastic throughout.

  • 5 5-18-2008 at 5:32 pm

    Billyboy said...

    Penelope is a strong contender in the supporting category. And, as you said, Woody’s screenplays are a sure bet on the Original category. (He’s the most nominated writer ever)

    I guess it only depends on how The Weinstein Co. handle this. An August 29 release date is not exactly a perfect date for oscar consideration. Will they push it for later this year?

    If Cruz gets nominated and eventually wins, guess who’s giving her the Oscar…. Javier

  • 6 5-19-2008 at 2:33 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Thanks, everyone, for the category tip – I’ll bear her in mind for Supporting Actress then, though the competition there is looking feisty. (Hell, the cast of “Synecdoche, New York” alone could fill up the ballot!)