When looked at through a Hollywood lens, VCB does not have a conventionally strong storyline; in fact, at first glance, it almost seems to lack a plot and its only saving grace appears to be the fact that it was shot in breath-taking Spain. But refrain from asking for the story and watch it instead; there are numerous occasions when you will find yourself identifying with the characters - with their mood swings, their romanticism, their feelings of being trapped, their universal desire for love.
Each character has a place in the story and complex, layered relationships with each other; every character remains true to itself right through the story, always being grounded and earthy. Although it is easy to dismiss Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem looking dreamy) as the central tent-pole around which the entire film revolves, the discerning viewer will realise that the film actually revolves around 4 central characters and a couple of smaller characters. All the main women in the film (Johansson, Hall and Cruz) are extremely well-written, strong characters, and it is after watching the film that you bemoan the public cheapening of the gorgeous scene of the kiss between Christina (Johansson) and Elena (Cruz) - it is so much in the flow of things that it is extremely believable and, to some degree, inevitable.
90 minutes later, you get up feeling like you have drunk a few glasses of wine with Juan Antonio, Maria Elena, Christina and Vicky, and looking forward to a few more glasses with your new friends. You want to admire Antonio's house and his paintings in his studio, while he and Elena stand in the garden (or in the street - what a shot!) arguing in their coarsely jagged Spanish that make your ears tingle and your heart jump. You want to shake Vicky into happiness and travel with Christina in her search of 'What do I want?'. You want to watch the film again and dream.