Woody Allen banks on three beauties to woo critics at Cannes

Director's latest film features his trademark wit – and a kiss between Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz

Woody Allen's recently tarnished reputation as a film-maker regained some of its sparkle in Cannes this weekend. After three indifferently received films shot in Britain, Allen's much-publicised new film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, played at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday to a response that, if not quite rapturous, was at least a collective sigh of relief.

Shot in Barcelona, it stars Scarlett Johansson as an American who gets romantically entangled with a Spanish artist, played by Javier Bardem, then winds up in a ménage à trois with him and his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz).

At the film's press conference yesterday, a journalist asked Allen: "Are threesomes a fantasy of yours and have you ever wanted to make one?" The reply was quintessential Allen: "It's hard enough to get one person."

Allen turned up in a dowdy brown jumper, flanked by two of the film's cast, Cruz and British actress Rebecca Hall.

Asked why he chose to shoot in Barcelona, Allen was pragmatic. "People in Barcelona asked, would I be interested in making a film there, and they'd finance it. I said, 'Sure, my wife and children would love to spend the summer there,' so I wrote the script. If someone in Rome or Paris or Stockholm had asked me, I'd have done it readily."

However, he flatly denied reports that the film had received €1m (£800,000) in funding from the city's administration. While it's by no means vintage Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a distinct improvement on his recent UK-shot trilogy: Match Point, Scoop and the recent Cassandra's Dream, starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, released this week, which arguably represents the director at his nadir.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona, however, regains some of the urbane wit that Allen fans relish, and is likely to be one of his most commercially successful films in some time – not least because it includes a torrid kiss between Johansson and Cruz.

The press conference was also a showcase for up-and-coming British star Hall. Asked how she landed the part in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Hall – the daughter of director Sir Peter Hall and opera singer Maria Ewing – turned to Allen and recalled their first meeting: "You said, 'Can you do an American accent?' I said, 'Yes.' And you said, 'Bye.'"

After Cannes, Allen returns to New York to complete his new comedy, with a cast led by Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David. "It's about a group of highly neurotic characters," he explained. Every chance it'll be vintage Woody, then.

Cannes shorts

* Former heavyweight world-champion boxer Mike Tyson said yesterday it was a "miracle" he was still alive after 40, as he launched a documentary about his life at the Cannes Film Festival. In 'Tyson', he describes being bullied, his deprived childhood in Brooklyn, his mother's promiscuity and the bitterness he felt over his "unjust" rape conviction in 1992 for which he served three years in jail. "I've lived a wild and extreme life... used drugs... slept with guys' wives," he said. "I'm just happy to be here."

* Brazilian director Walter Salles has made a documentary in which he takes the same road trip as the lead character in 'On the Road', Jack Kerouac's seminal book on the Beat Generation of the 1950s and '60s. In the documentary, 'Searching for On the Road', Salles takes the same journey as Kerouac's alter ego, Sal Paradise, and talks to Beat poets who knew Kerouac. Salles' current film, 'Linha de Passe', is up for the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year.

Arifa Akbar, Arts Correspondent

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...