The moment I realised that I would eagerly give my entire being up for Cruz’s steady-handed attention was in the film Vicki Cristina Barcelona. It’s one of those films you see and you instantly know two things: 1) it’s a Woody Allen production and 2) your views on the rules of attraction will be permanently skewed, if not unidentifiably altered.
It wasn’t just the seduction and swagger of Spain’s Javier Bardem — who undoubtedly changed the stars of a cavalcade of women in his role as the blunt seducer, Juan Antonio. His smouldering sexiness was amplified by the growl and sway of Pénelope Cruz’s Maria Elena. She’s a crazy woman with a very direct understanding of love, loyalty, and sexuality, all stemming from her intimacy with art. Indeed, Maria Elena is a work of art in and of herself — wild, uncontrollable, and yet so naturally found in the scope of the universe.
The curve of her lips, the arc of her back, the way in which she cups a cigarette within the dancing crack of her smile. Everything about Cruz’s character brings range, depth, and deep touch to the film (which, quite frankly, could’ve been incredibly flat if not for her presence).