To Rome With Love
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Allen lauds Rome in neurotic but teen-friendly comedy.
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Not Allen's best, but there's not a lot wrong with this film - like Vicky Cristina Barcelona, it's sexually charged to the nines, and though there are a few jokes that fall flat - Woody Allen can't really play a character other than Woody Allen - there are a quite a few big laughs. At once a love letter to and parody of Italy and its films, the deft shifting between the almost too many storylines is unfortunately offset by an introductory and concluding line that land on the twee side, and the overriding whiimsy we expect from Allen is almost too similar to a lot that he's done before. Only "almost," though; I still went home happy. When it comes to conversations and what they reveal about the characters, nobody does it like Allen. And the drive to bad choices for what seem, in the end, to be decent reasons, is what holds your attention the whole way. I found myself saying, "Wow, in Allen's world, everyone is always sleeping with everyone else," but that's not the point of the film, not exactly. The stated message is simply that everyone's got a story, which becomes hilarious in the Begnini storyline, in which the minutia of his ordinary life becomes the nightly top story on the news. The commentary is on our celebrity-obsessed society, but it's also a wink from the film-maker, telling you that maybe this is all absurd: maybe you don't need or want to be entertained by quotidian details, and maybe you could just turn the TV off, as many of us do once we reach our respective gossip tolerances. It's not as bad as the critics say, it's just not as good as VCB or Midnight in Paris, (never mind his 70s work). The master is fading, and To Rome with Love is an untidy mish-mash many of his previous approaches, but as is pointed out in the movie - to Allen's character, which I'm sure is no coincidence - retirement may well equal death, to some. It seems particularly relevant to an artist this prolific, so I say, "Long live Woody!"
- danperry17, Monday, October 29, 2012
"To Rome with Love" is my favorite Woody Allen movie since 2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." It channels the spirit of Federico Fellini to bring a surrealist touch to its sumptuous celebration of Rome. Perhaps it's the imaginative and slightly post-modern surrealism that has caused mainstream critics to turn their backs on this film. Their loss. Don't get me wrong. It's not great. It doesn't warrant a Best Picture nomination. But it is a delightful gem. There are several distinct, unrelated storylines in "Rome," giving it a multi-faceted quality. The first involves an accomplished American architect (Alec Baldwin) coming back to Rome for the first time in 30 years. In his student days, he had spent a year or so in Rome, and returning to the city for the first time has overwhelmed him with feeling. He walks to his old neighborhood and meets an Architecture student (Jesse Eisenberg) who is doing the same thing Baldwin did, a young American having a glorious year in Rome that he'll remember forever. Gradually, the script works in a beautiful touch of surrealism. There aren't two separate architects. They're the same person. Baldwin is having a tender visit with his 21-year-old self, reliving the brief love affair he had in Rome when he was so young. Allen never gets overly sentimental with this storyline. I found it to be a beautiful meditation on lost youth. Eisenberg does a wonderful job with this storyline. It's the best I've ever seen from Eisenberg. Equally wonderful is Ellen Page ("Hard Candy," "Juno") as the well-intentioned but self-absorbed actress with whom the student architect has a one-week affair. One little week he remembers forever. The second storyline involves an American couple (Allen and Judy Davis) in Rome to visit their daughter (Alison Pill), who is engaged to a young Italian man. When the in-laws meet, hilarity ensues. A crazy subplot emerges when Allen tries to convince his son-in-law's father to pursue a career in opera. In addition to providing screwball comedy, this subplot allows the film to present some of the most beautiful singing you'll hear at the movies all year. Thirdly, there's a young Italian couple from a small town who have come to Rome to celebrate their engagement. Penelope Cruz plays a good-hearted hooker who gets mixed up with them. Fourth: Academy Award winner Roberto Benigni plays an ordinary accountant flung into 15 minutes of fame, in a wildly surrealistic send-up of the 21st-century mania for reality TV and instant fame. "To Rome With Love" is a must-see for anyone who loves Europe and likes his screwball comedy laced with surrealism, opera, and post-modernism. I loved it.
- dunmyer, Monday, August 27, 2012
I was really excited that Ellen Page was going to play Monica, "the siren ingenue," in Woody Allen's newest film because while she's made her career playing quirky/damaged girls, there's an irresistible quality in her that I find sexy and sensual. Instead, either Woody directed her or she acted as her usual loquacious faux-savant. Styling could have helped. Page needn't have glammed up or channeled Penelope Cruz, but it seems like every aspect of Monica's personality (whether sexy or banal) is spoken of and determined by others, not actually shown on the screen by Page's performance or costuming. Her friend, Sally, keeps saying she's so attractive, but Alec Baldwin's old-man-guide character keeps criticizing her pretentious art and literary references that I wonder why Jack even falls for her. If characters undercut other characters, there isn't much for the audience to fall for. Woody often has such a way with his actresses - whether lighting them or just getting them to smile more. I never thought much of Alison Pill, but she is radiant in a girl-next-door part just because she smiles and wears white and has more outdoor scenes in natural light. The rest of the movie is Woody's typical, below average, antic-ridden ensemble comedy.
- aliceinpunderland, Sunday, July 29, 2012