Nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Penelope Cruz), Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the story of two American women and their summer in Spain. Vicky is working on a graduate thesis which would benefit from first-hand study in Spain and she happens to have a distant relative, Judy, who lives in Barcelona. Judy and her husband, Mark, invite Vicky to come for the summer so she can finish her paper before her fall wedding to fiance, Doug. Vicky brings her best friend, Cristina, an artistic dreamer who has just made a short film, but is still trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. One night after an art gala, the girls meet Juan Antonio, a painter who recently broke up with his wife in a messy tabloid scandal, and there is instant chemistry - both the good and the bad kind.
The movie follows the two girls, and the companions in their outer circle, through their summer of discovery. All sorts of hijinks ensue. In the end, everyone learns something about who they are and who they want to be.
Penelope Cruz plays Juan Antonio's troubled ex-wife. She is amazing in the film! She totally nails the role of high-strung, off-balance love of Juan Antonio's life. She is at once flamboyant, crazy, scary, tender, and sheltered. Her character is the sounding-board and the mirror from which the other characters gain their insights and develop in their own right. Definitely a nomination-worthy turn.
It's probably also worth noting that everything in this movie is gorgeous. The actors, the scenery, the shots...a visual treat.
We did not want to see this when it first came out, even though it's a Woody Allen film. I thought it was just going to be a bunch of dumb people having sex in Spain. Turns out that was just a minor point to the movie and actually performances and plot rose way above it. We were both more than pleasantly surprised.
Moms, well...my mom could probably see this and might enjoy it since it's in Spain and parts of it are actually in Spanish...as long as she keeps in mind that there is casual sex. Bruce's mom probably wouldn't be all that interested in the film, though.