Vicky Cristina Barcelona features a three-way love affair and the actors involved are among the sexiest human beings on the planet:, Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz (who won an Oscar for her performance).
But just the fact that this film is written and directed by the enduring Woody Allen indicates it has rather more intellectual content than that crude description suggests. More often than not, the films he's made over the last nearly 50 years are crammed with talkative characters, echo with sardonic humour, and dig around in the psychology of love and relationships.
So what exactly is the thrice-married Woody Allen, who has also had much publicised relationships with former leading ladies Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow, saying about sex and love in Vicky Cristina Barcelona? It's difficult not to ask this question while watching the film given the controversy that erupted in the lead up to him marrying his current wife, Soon-Yi Previn, who is 35 years his junior and Farrow and pianist/composer Andre Previn's adopted daughter.
One of the things Allen has said in relation to the film is that people are very complicated and relationships are very hard to sustain because people have “incredibly detailed needs” and if those needs are not met it can be annoying. “In the case of Juan Antonio (Bardem) and Maria Elena (Cruz), the two of them fight like cats and dogs all the time even though they are passionately crazy about each other,” he says. “But the presence of Cristina (Johansson) in the chemical equation somehow makes it possible for their relationship to work. They channel enough of their affection to Cristina and Cristina to them, and Cristina drains off some of the anger and irritation or makes it less heated.”
Allen has also said about the film that he doesn't have profound things to say about love: “But by creating live characters, and having them interact, inferences can be made by people. There are probably things in the final film that are in spite of what I hoped to say – they may even contradict what I had on my mind, which is not that deep. On the other hand, I did have some points to make. Some things work for some people in some situations. One can't preconceive these things and one has to be more flexible when it comes to love.”
Watch 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'
Thursday 24 September, 9:30pm on SBS World Movies (streaming after at SBS On Demand)
Spain, USA, 2008
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English, Spanish
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Patricia Clarkson