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Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem acting strangely
Chris Perriam

This chapter discusses Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona in the context of the strangeness of the mix of cultural vagueness and the use of two nationally highly specific actors, Penèlope Cruz and Javier Bardem. It examines the roles played by them in maintaining (or, sometimes, not) the fine, ironic balance between critiquing and colluding in North-American cinema's representation of European cities. It is shown that this positioning at a point of ideological ambivalence echoes the patterns of sexual politics in which their characters are enmeshed. The incidental curiosity of Bardem and Cruz playing in English, mainly, but on home territory, combines with the ambivalent status of Barcelona as Catalan capital and rival cultural capital of Spain. The film places its actors, at least contingently, and through the magnifying sheet-glass of wry reflexivity, in the frame of the romantic comedy.

in Spanish cinema 1973–2010