Penelope Cruz deserves a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her fiery, crazy, sexy work in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." This is the latest male-fantasy confection from Woody Allen, and it’s a comfortable, consistently entertaining summer diversion. Allen’s favorite 21st century muse is Scarlett Johansson, and she’s getting more comfortable with each role. She plays the restless and romantically adventurous Cristina. The lovely and gifted Rebecca Hall is her best friend Vicky, who is engaged to a nice boring rich guy. The girls are spending the summer in Barcelona.
Javier Bardem is Juan Antonio, a painter with huge appetites for women, wine, everything. Penelope Cruz plays his tempestuous ex Maria Elena. Juan Antonio, Cristina and Maria Elena settle into a lusty and loving three-way relationship, while Vicky questions her commitment to the comfortable but boring Doug.
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona" is a trifle—a beautiful postcard from Barcelona with gorgeous actors doing a great job of spinning Allen’s signature dialogue. It’s one of Allen’s sexiest movies, but I don’t know if that’s saying much. Woody’s always been better depicting courtship and breakups than the lust and lasting love. Manhattan used to be the co-star in Allen’s films; now it’s European locales like London and Barcelona. He romanticizes these cities in a way that makes you want to get on the next plane. Nothing terribly surprising or amazing happens here. The pleasure is in the journey, and in watching terrific work, particularly from Hall and Penelope Cruz.