“To Rome With Love” is Woody Allen’s latest love letter to the great cities of Europe. Unfortunately, his previous efforts in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight In Paris” were much more successful than his Italian attempt.
“To Rome With Love” is a film that encompasses four distinct, unrelated and unfinished stories. This first storyline is about a young newlywed Italian couple, who come to the big city for their honeymoon. Through mishap and misunderstanding, they are separated, and their newly forged bonds of marriage are tested by a “prostituto“ in a hot red dress (Penelope Cruz).
Roberto Begnini is cast in the second story as the unsuspecting everyday guy, whose life is turned upside down by hilariously undeserved fame.
This story—at times amusing, mostly because of Begnini’s physical comedic skills—felt mostly like overkill of Allen’s random thoughts on fame.
Then there’s the blond American tourist (Allison Pill), wearing her 21st century Annie Hall slouchy suspenders look, meets a beautiful, but Communist!, Italian union organizer. They become engaged, and her parents (played by Allen himself and Judy Davis) fly over to meet the in-laws. A bizarre plot line ensues having to do with singing opera music in the shower. I found this story to be the least amusing.
Lastly, there’s the story of the aging architect (Alec Baldwin) who has gone back to visit his old student haunts. As he wanders down the cobble stone streets, he meets a young architect student (Jesse Eisenberg). Here Allen brings in a swirl of fantasy and surrealism as it becomes clear that the student is meant to represent Baldwin’s character as a young man. The elder coaches the younger through the tempestuous waters of cheating on his stalwart, espresso-making girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) with her dramatic and bi-curious best friend (Ellen Page).
The movie had its moments, and from a less accomplished writer and director I might have thought more of the film. But from Woody Allen, who brilliantly crafts movies that read like love stories to some of the greatest cities in the world, this was clearly a sub-standard addition to his catalogue.
On the other hand, from someone who produces as many films as he does—it makes sense they’re all not created equal.
Arividerchi, Roma. I’m hoping Allen picks a new city and a better script for his next venture.
Overall Grade: C