To Rome With Love
After heart-achingly brilliant parodies, words tinged with comic genius and fables of almost religious proportions, this is what we’re left with? Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page, of Juno fame, fumbling around awkwardly in some ancient Roman ruin with all the believability of a new reality TV show pilot? It was only yesteryear that Woody Allen unveiled a surprising success in the very sweet and wonderful Midnight in Paris, still not a match for his past accomplishments, but entertaining and charming nonetheless. Why oh why must he sour that with To Rome with Love? If that dear typewriter of his were to implode with writers block or sheer tapping frustration, we would be left, all alone, with this average, if not totally confusing, piece of work.
Set in Rome, surprise!
Opening with a half-assed monologue by a half-assed cop standing in a roundabout directing half-assed traffic. He is to be our narrator for the entirety of the story and his opening dialogue sets the film up for what will be a slew of frustrating and awkward performances. Unsurprisingly, Penelope Cruz is wonderfully convincing and amusing as a saucy Italian prostitute, so we won’t mention that she is basically parodying the original Italian seductress Sophia Loren without so much as a whorish shrug. Otherwise, we have a cast of the usual Woody Allen misfits. The simple, confused working father played by Roberto Benigni, the imaginary friend/mentor played by a very charming Alec Baldwin, the frustrated and unforgiving wife played by Judy Davis and then of course Woody himself, playing himself, lamenting over the same themes of death and life. While this is perfectly acceptable, a convincing enough story behind the lamenting is usually required. The actors appear to be so crucially aware that they are indeed acting in a Woody Allen film that you can’t help but notice this acknowledgement within their performances. Each tends to become a slightly heightened and neurotic version of themselves, as if jumping straight into a jelly mould shaped by Woody himself.
To get caught up in the ridiculousness of the in between stories seems almost pointless, as they are only ever carrier pigeons in Allen’s movies. In all, a disappointing film, uninspiring and – apart from the occasional charms and winks provided by Baldwin, Cruz and an unknown starlet played by Alessandra Mastronardi – what we’re left with is a cast of fumbling and disconnected characters skimming Rome’s magnificent edges.
Review by Golden Lady.