Director, writer and actor Woody Allen seems intent on trying to produce a film a year. He’s only missed a few years in his run since the late 60s. Some of those films have helped ignite his solid reputation as a filmmaker. Others have left moviegoers wondering why he’s so popular. While last year’s Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris came off as a popular film, To Rome With Love isn’t soaring with favorable reviews.
Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg
The story centers on a young couple in Rome. Sally (Greta Gerwig) and Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) are an easy going couple. So tolerant of each other that when Sally wants to invite a friend to stay with them for a while, Jack agrees. Sally’s worst fear comes true when Jack finds he’s attracted to the sexy Monica (Ellen Page).
When noted architect John (Alec Baldwin) runs into Jack while looking for his early stomping grounds; Jack is eager to show John around. It’s not long before John is an often invisible mentor telling Jack everything that will happen – and none of it good – which is exactly true.
Alessandro Tiberi, Roberto Della Casa, Penélope Cruz
Other stories come and go in the film like that of newlyweds Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) who appear so in love with each other that what unfolds feels totally unbelievable. It has the two opting to sleep with someone else when Milly sets out for an innocent haircut. Playing an alluring prostitute is Penélope Cruz, who when is intruded upon in the hotel room by Antonio’s parents, ends up pretending to be his wife. Milly runs into a movie star (Antonio Albanese) and falls instantly into his bed. Very trite subplot here.
Then there’s another couple, Hayley (Alison Pill) and Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti), who get engaged after only a few dates. When Hayley’s dad (Woody Allen) eventually meets Michelangelo’s dad he learns he can sing beautiful opera but only when in the shower. Where the plot goes from here can be called all wet.
It’s well known that Hollywood stars yearn to be in a Woody Allen movie and To Rome With Love feels exactly like that; a bunch of stars overlooking a ridiculous plot just to be in a Woody Allen movie.
The only part I enjoyed was watching Oscar winner Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) as Leopoldo, an ordinary office worker whose world quickly changes when paparazzi ascend on him like he was a star. Every minute of this impractical subplot is made believable by Benigni’s rare talent.
To Rome With Lov
e will appeal to true Woody Allen fans; others are warned.
Photo Credits: Philippe Antonello / Gravier Productions, Inc. / Sony Pictures Classics