by Xavier Toby in New Film on Wednesday 7 January 2009

Over the past twenty years, Woody Allen has churned out mediocre efforts, especially compared to his early work. Vicky Cristina Barcelona, though, is a standout riddled with social satire and excellent comic timing. It follows Vicky and Cristina, two young American friends who share similar interests but opposite morals. They spend the summer in Barcelona, and the cast, including an in-form Penelope Cruz, Javier Bordem and Scarlett Johansson, all revel in a script that boasts some of Allen’s best lines. For years Allen doggedly stuck to his beloved New York, a city he shot with care and consideration, and that same touch has been brought to Barcelona. He takes us to the villas, islands and other standout tourist locations, the setting for each scene a different postcard. Most the major landmarks are represented, along with picturesque villas, restaurants and streets, although none of it is overdone and provides the ideal background to this meditation on love that is insightful, but still manages to keep the light, playful tone of a holiday romance.