Some should ponder whether there is any point in saying «there is no Woody Allen like the old Woody Allen»; but whatever that case may be one thing remains out of doubt: he still can produce captivating cinematographic moments. Vicky Cristina Barcelona —while certainly not A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy— manages to briefly shine at its own pace. The rhythm and atmosphere developed by the montage of close-ups and dialogues (particularly when the trio establishes) construct a subtle and captivating mise-en-scène and that alone makes it stand in its craft.
The dialogues are not traditionally inter-cut but instead their timing allows to grasp things beyond words —a whole dialogue might be edited on one single character; also helped by the English mingled with Spanish. That is the former Woody Allen reflecting his idolizing of Bergman’s work, and while he might not be capable of apprehending the essence of human beings he can at least suggest its shade. When Ana María arrives from her failed attempt at suicide the movie reaches its peak in the construction of this particular setting.
And it does indeed evoke the emptiness of artists (and the lightness of art in general at the pacing of Giulia y Los Tellarini). The veiled suffering in the ignominious pseudo-amorality which —in the end— does not represent freedom at all but a dark cage instead. And therein lies the two stars of this film; in the feeling of solitude and suffering it shows deep beyond the surface as the laugh turns bitter. In the end, however, it does not manage to come to terms with its own proposal and the mise-en-scène dilutes in the wrong way; the resolution through the gunshot feels pale and lacking. The sourness is still there, nonetheless.