Woody Allen has Little Children disease, and I’m not talking about his sex life.
My wife and I finally caught his latest film last night, and like the Kate Winslet sex-in-suburbia drama from a few years back, it suffers from way too much narration. An experienced and arguably great filmmaker like Allen should know that when you show an actor’s face, you don’t need an all-knowing third-person voice telling you what they’re thinking. That just gets in the way. The result gives you the drawbacks of film and the novel, without the advantages of either.
Without the narration, it would be a pretty good sexual comedy/drama, with the emphasis on drama. Although Allen’s films have always been about sex and sexual emotions, this was the first time he seemed to be going to erotica, although it’s pretty tame, PG-13 erotica. But the story is predictable, and Rebecca Hall as one of the title characters appears often to be imitating Allan.
On the other hand, you’ve got Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and beautiful Spanish scenery. If nothing else, Vicky Cristina Barcelona offers plenty of eye candy.
To be fair, my wife liked it better than I did. She felt the narration provided an intentional distancing effect.