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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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Leave it to Woody Allen to make a romantic comedy in which all the major players end up either single, homicidal or trapped in safe, boring marriages. Talk about modern love! Yet, from those unlikely materials, Allen has crafted a wry and thoughtful film about the peculiar stirrings of the heart that is certainly his most accomplished piece of work since 2005's Match Point and arguably his funniest in the eight years since Small Time Crooks. When brainy, long-legged grad student Vicky (Rebecca Hall) arrives in Barcelona on summer vacation with her blond, impetuous girlfriend Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), it's not long before the two cross paths with broodingly handsome painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who attempts to seduce them both. For a while, Vicky Cristina Barcelona seems to be shaping up as a diverting if insubstantial bedroom farce. Then Penélope Cruz makes her entrance as Bardem's erstwhile amor and muse, Maria Elena, and sets this heretofore perfectly enjoyable enterprise ablaze like a raging comic fireball.

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