Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen’s new romantic comedy about two young American women and their amorous escapades in Barcelona, took the plum award as Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) in this year’s Golden Globe awards. One of Hollywood’s finest actresses, Penélope Cruz, also received an Academy Award Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as the mad ex-wife of a Spanish painter. The film also garnered three other Golden Globe nominations: Best Actress (Rebecca Hall), Best Actor (Javier Bardem) and Best Supporting Actress (Penélope Cruz).
In the film, Vicky (Rebecca Hall – The Prestige) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson – Lost In Translation, Match Point, The Spirit) are best friends, but have completely different attitudes towards love. Vicky is sensible and engaged to a respectable young man. Cristina is sexually and emotionally uninhibited, perpetually searching for a passion that will sweep her off her feet. When distant relatives of Vicky offer to host them for a summer in Barcelona, the two of them eagerly accept.
As Cristina and Juan Antonio settle into a dreamy life together, one night he is awakened by an alarming phone call–Juan Antonio’s ex-wife Maria Elena is at the hospital after a suicide attempt. Jealous and suspicious, and subject to wild mood swings, Maria Elena misses no opportunity to bicker with Juan Antonio and put Cristina down. In time, she becomes more relaxed and settles into a warmer relationship with Juan Antonio and even mentors Cristina’s pursuit of photography.
Allen had never seen Penélope Cruz in a film until he saw her Oscar-nominated performance in Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Volver.’ “I just thought she was amazing,” he says. “And of course I couldn’t wait to get her for my movie…Maria Elena is a force of nature, and that’s what Penélope is. She’s beautiful and amazingly sexy in a way that no other woman in the world is-a very special kind of beauty. And she’s a tremendous actress and she conveys it. Of course it’s overwhelming.”
“With somebody else I would have been scared to play a character that approaches every situation with the same level of energy,” says Cruz. “When you have a character that is so extroverted and so loud and brings so much chaos, I think, maybe because of fear, I wanted to do some of the scenes a little bit quieter. And I tried a couple of times to make things smaller and he said, ‘No, she lives in that state permanently.’ He gave me a clear direction-‘Be brave!’-and I think he was completely right about that.”
See why love, art and madness can’t mix as Vicky Cristina Barcelona opens at your favorite theaters beginning February 18. From VIVA International Pictures. Special thanks to the Spain Tourism Board. Check out www.insideespana.com/ph/vcb for details on the promotion to win tickets to Barcelona.