To Rome With Love (2012)
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page
Country: USA, Italy, Spain
Language: English, Italian
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 102 minutes
USA Release: 6/22/2012 (Limited)
On DVD (USA): 1/15/2013
After the supreme success of Woody Allen’s last film “Midnight in Paris”, Allen is back with this visit to Rome. Allen who has mostly been seen behind the camera over the past six years is now putting back on his acting shoes which haven’t been worn since his 2006 film “Scoop” acting alongside Scarlett Johansson. But I’m still wondering will this even come close to the brilliance of his last film, let alone any of his other successful ones?.
Told in the form of four vignettes the story unfolds in the streets of Rome as we meet a police officer directing traffic and telling us how he sees everything that happens in this city he loves. In each of the vignettes there are different conflicts that arise, and at the base it deals with accomplishment. In one it just deals with sudden and confusing fame, while in another it’s all about pride and happiness. In the other two it’s Woody’s and probably a lot of directors go to theme which is infidelity.
In the past Woody Allen is one that could be counted on to deliver a great story, funny lines, and a great collaboration of great actors. With “To Rome With Love” though, some of those things we cherish in his movies are not found here. Yes, he brings together a questionably great cast and delivers a few funny lines but the story was something I found uninteresting and tedious, well at least half of it. Deep down I think that Allen had a good idea going with this story of underlining need to accomplish or encourage someone to accomplish but the strings with which the story are weaved do not make a beautiful piece of art, but instead are unraveled and frayed.
Like I said before essentially half the movie was down right boring and unfortunately one of those stories including Allen himself. One of the tedious stories was the one that deals with sudden and unexplained super fame which was long and overdrawn having us return back to him still experiencing that same thing over and over with no real change and you can ultimately figure out where his story will end. And the other story was the one that dealt with pressure to get someone to use their talent, this is the one that featured Allen himself using retired jokes from his past. And although there are a couple of interesting things going on in each of the these stories like showing how crazed the media can get with a superstar and a man singing in his shower, it never had me interested in the people in the situations.
Now of the other two stories that make of the whole of the film, I felt that although they weren’t completely together they had a lot more going on then the other two. Of those stories there were a newly married couple experiencing Rome before moving there. And a older gentleman remember his life which seems to parallel the life of a young man he just met. Within both of these stories we deal with infidelity and that leads the people in these stories down interesting and intense paths. The one I found to be the most interesting was the one dealing with the newly married couple because you never were quite sure where this was going to take you. Their story takes you down to movie sets, awkward lunches and confusing identities. The other stories while it has it’s interesting parts, it boils down to a comparison to the characters and situations of another one of Allen’s films “Manhattan”. And another thing that just confused the heck out of me was what exactly was Baldwin’s character suppose to represent. His character was never explained and the ending while it finished never fully connects the dots. And speaking of endings, while all the stories has an ending, the last few minutes just seem to fizzle out like a car out of gas, and that doesn’t help with the lousy “narration” by the police officer.
For a film that is about Rome, we never really get that much of a feel for the city. Yes, we see some beautiful places along this journey, but really if you think about it this story could have taken place anywhere. Besides a few little location that are seen or mentioned, what is really setting this apart saying THIS IS ROME PEOPLE, nothing or at least I didn’t feel it did. It just seems like an interesting location choice on Allen’s part but the story never makes Rome that interesting. Now in the case of “Midnight in Paris”, or any of Allen’s previous film that took place in New York, he always made sure to emphasize the fact that where we are at is the most beautiful place in the world and that this kind of story could only take place here with all of it’s majestic buildings and honest people. Unfortunately for “To Rome With Love” the location just seems like a footnote.
Like many critics will tell you, Allen is known for having the ability to get pretty much any actor or actress he wants to be in his film. And over the years many of them have made multiple appearances throughout his filmography. Many of the cast in “To Rome With Love” are making their first appearance, but even if it’s their first or fifth time working with Allen, in this film they do there best with what they got, which isn’t much. Since there is a lot of actor and actress in each of the stories, I’ll just take note to certain ones. Allen with his acting shoes back on for the first time in six years, seems to be out of date a bit having his jokes or at least the tone of them seem recycled. Baldwin while his character is confusing because of his fantasy like appearances actually seems to be having a good time playing the sort of “Jiminy Cricket” conscience, and we have a good time watching him.
Eisenberg is ok in this role, but like many actors do when acting in one of Allen’s film they tend to act too much like Allen and don’t bring enough of themselves to the role, just making them look ridiculous because only Woody can and should play Woody. Gerwig and Page are both great young actresses, but their roles don’t seem to fit them especially Page. Page seems to be having a hard time trying to be the more sophisticated/witty type while Gerwig is wasted in her role. I think that they might have been better switching roles but maybe that’s to obvious. Also how their characters’ are mostly Page’s Monica seems to be almost an exact replica of Diane Keaton’s character in “Manhattan”. Pill and Davis are both a waste in their roles as the story and every situation leaves them as the naggy, questioning woman when they are heard from. Cruz, Mastronardi and Tiberi all seem to be having the most fun in their roles and do a fantastic job delivering the laughs. Armiliato, Guanciale and Parenti are also pretty much wasted as their roles belittled their talents especially Guanciale, although he gives it his all.
Overall, as you can see “To Rome With Love” is an uninteresting mess of a film. Not only are two of the stories (that makes half the movie) worthless and pointless, the comedy isn’t all that funny. While I tend to enjoy Allen’s films, especially his last one, I think he rushed into this way to fast. Obviously I don’t recommend this, so instead save your money and watch “Midnight in Paris”, “Annie Hall”, “Sleepers” heck just about anything else but this.