LIFE IS THE ULTIMATE WORK OF ART.
Vicky and Christina (Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson), two friends with very different views on life and love, go to Barcelona for the summer; they meet a charismatic painter (Javier Bardem) who affects them both. It’s amazing to see the 72-year-old, versatile filmmaker deliver such a heartfelt, young, vibrant film; perhaps it was the sunny, Spanish environs that got to him. The script confronts its characters with choices between following one’s heart or mind and shows the limits of pure passion. The cast is first-rate. Johansson and Hall perfectly illustrate two quality of life philosophies; Bardem and Penélope Cruz are on fire as two larger-than life artists.
2008-U.S. 97 min. Color. Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Gareth Wiley. Written and directed by Woody Allen. Cast: Javier Bardem (Juan Antonio), Penélope Cruz (Maria Elena), Scarlett Johansson (Cristina), Rebecca Hall (Vicky), Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn.
Oscar: Best Supporting Actress (Cruz). Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical). BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress (Cruz).
Last word: “Someone called from Barcelona and said ‘Would you like to make a picture here? We’ll finance it.’ That’s always the hardest part of making any picture, is getting the financing. Writing it, directing it, or anything else is easier than getting the financing for it, so I said sure, I would do it. I had no idea for anything for it, and then about a week or two later I got a call from Penelope Cruz. I didn’t know her, she wanted to meet, and she was in New York. I had only seen her in ‘Volver’ and nothing else ever. I thought she was great in it, and she said that she knew I was doing a film in Barcelona, and she would like to participate. I started out with Barcelona, with Penelope, and in the back of mind I was going to go to Scarlett. Then I heard Javier [Bardem] was interested, so gradually it took shape. I was writing for these people. I was deliberately writing for these people.” (Allen, Collider)