Movie Review: To Rome With Love
Country: United States
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
· Woody Allen
· Judy Davis, Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg
by Lindsay Brand
Published: June 25, 2012
Coming off the box office success of “Midnight in Paris”, Woody Allen offers another film set in an exotic locale. At the beginning of the film, a traffic cop tells movie viewers he is going to show them some of the real stories of Rome. What follows is a splattering of various storylines without any relating themes or intersecting stories besides the fact that they are all set in Rome.
Hayley, an American visiting Rome, meets Michelangelo when she gets lost touring. Of course they fall madly in love and decide to get married. Hayley’s parents fly in from America to meet their future in-laws who own a funeral home business. Hayley’s father (Woody Allen) is a retired music promoter; her mother (Judy Davis) is a psychologist. Like most of his films, Allen plays the neurotic husband with a cynical but loving wife at his side. Unlike his other films, their characters fall flat. Instead of chuckling at the culture clash between the diverse families, I felt that these character lacked heart. At times it felt like Woody Allen was doing a poor impression of his former characters. The only saving grace was the bit about the opera-singing mortician, but Allen pushed it too far and it lost its novelty.
Another storyline follows a young architect peaceably living with his girlfriend while they study abroad. Then a young actress, played by Ellen Page, sashays into their life. She is a flighty person who has come to live with them for a while after another bad relationship since she is best-friends with his girlfriend. I assume you can see where this leads. Alec Baldwin’s character (who I haven’t decided if it is a ghost, conscience or an overlooked stranger) follows the young architect around trying to convince him not to fall in love with the actress.
Another story follows a young honeymooning couple that has come to Paris to meet his family. They must impress the family before he can get the job that will make them rich. A screwball comedy type of situation begins after the young wife gets lost on her way to the hair salon and a prostitute (Penelope Cruz) comes to the wrong room. Of all the stories, I found this one had the most heart. And chemistry.
Finally, the only other story followed an insignificant Roman citizen. Roberto Benigni is nobody until one day the media decides he is famous for merely being famous. His character suffers the injustices and privileges of fame; it is amusing, but becomes a bit heavy-handed and forced by the end.
Usually, I’m a huge fan of Woody Allen’s humor and scripts. I enjoy the fantastic elements he inserts in his films and accept them as magical realism. Unfortunately, the fantastic elements in this film were not governed by any laws and did not allow suspension of belief. A lot of the humor fell short of what we’ve come to expect from Allen. Ultimately, the lack of heart and cardboard acting disappointed me. Unless you’re a huge Woody Allen fan, I’d advise you to wait to rent this one.