Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem & Scarlett Johansson shack up together in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy

A human tornado of jealousy, craziness and sensuality, the Oscar-winning Penélope Cruz whirls into Woody Allen’s delightful romantic comedy Vicky Cristina Barcelona – and proceeds to blow everyone else off screen. She doesn’t appear, though, until half the movie has elapsed, by which point Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson’s young American friends (the titular Vicky and Cristina) have already begun entangling themselves in a series of amorous misadventures during a summer visit to Barcelona.

Johansson’s adventurous Cristina throws herself into a stormy affair with Javier Bardem’s hedonistic painter, which becomes an even more tempestuous ménage-a-trois when Cruz, as Bardem’s fiery ex-wife, swooshes in upon the scene. Meanwhile, Hall’s reserved sensible Vicky also finds herself succumbing to romantic temptation during the duo’s Spanish sojourn.

Allen’s stay in Spain appears to have given him a similar boost. Vicky Cristina Barcelona may not be a match for such classics of his 1970s and 80s heyday as Annie Hall, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, but this comic moral fable is easily his most entertaining movie in years and an infinite improvement on recent box-office duds Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream.

(Released 22nd June)

Has the Spanish sun rejuvenated Woody Allen’s career? 

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