This 61st Cannes Festival is marked by Woody Allen's return to the Croisette to present his latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem, out of Competition. The quintessential Manhattan director is a veteran of the official selection, with Match Point (2005), Hollywood Ending (2002), New York Stories (1989), Radio Days (1987), Hannah and her Sisters (1986), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), Bonjour Monsieur Lewis (1982), and Manhattan (1979).
As its title indicates, the story is set in the sizzling Catalonian capital. Vicky and Cristina, two young Americans with different attitudes towards love, have come to spend the summer in the Spanish sunshine. They find themselves swept up in a surprising series of sexual adventures with a charismatic artist, Juan Antonio, who is still bound to his ex-wife, the impetuous Maria Elena...
"When I began writing the script," recalls Allen, "I had no other intention than to write a story in which Barcelona would be a key character. I wanted to spotlight a city I love a lot. In addition to its fabulous beauty, it is imbued with a very romantic atmosphere. Places like Paris or Barcelona are the only ones where a story like this one could be conceived."
Regarding the casting, Woody Allen explained: "From time to time, in my professional life, I meet an actress whose qualities inspire me. Scarlett is very intelligent, sexy, and gifted, and she can play a wide range of parts. She also has a sharp wit, and comes up with verbal inventions that dazzle me. As for Penelope, she is a force of nature, like Maria Elena. She's beautiful, and incredibly sexy in a way that is hers alone. And, of course, she's an amazing actress. Obviously, I had everything I wanted."