To Rome with Love Reviews
Set in Rome, we get four unrelated vignettes that all involve love and relationships in some sort of way, all of them generally kind of funny, and falling under the umbrella of rom-com/magical realism.
The movie isn't really a good one per se, but it's not terrible either. I think it mostly fails to be great because Woody is old, doesn't really care much anymore, and just keeps on making movies just because. In a way, I'm okay with this, because even the worst Woody Allen is still sort of enjoyable in its own way.
All of these four stories are hit and miss, but each one did make me laugh at least once, though never in a gut busting sort of way. Even when things fell flat, I wasn't really bored, so that shows you right there that the film isn't a complete loss.
It's good seeing Woody act again, but his shtick is quite tired here, and I wouldn't have cared had he just stayed behind the camera. It's at least nice seeing Roberto Benigni and Judy Davis again, though. Jesse Eisenberg makes for a great surrogate Woody, and I liked Ellen Page as well. Seeing Penelope Cruz play a prostitute posing as a newly married man's wife was probably the highlight though.
All in all, this is lesser Allen, but it still has its merits. I don't fully recommend it, but can't think of enough reasons not to possibly check it out either.
Great Film! "To Rome with Love" is a fantasy film; a comedy about people living out their fantasies. The great thing about it is that it's subtle enough that you don't recognize the fantasy element in all of the relationships until later on in the film. The whole cast works nicely and all the performances are all around great. We see different stories through out the film. Some show aspects of the Italian lifestyle and culture, presented from a beautiful Rome; that city that Allen wants to present to us, his Rome. But other stories present again the issues that have been important to him, those problems that for centuries have raised for humankind: love, infidelity, death, success, fame, happiness; those issues that Allen simply loves to discuss.
Confidence is not to be confused with optimism because as funny as "To Rome with Love" is, it also has Allen's usual undertone of pessimism. Death is going to come sooner than you would like, but not soon enough. And even if you do get to live out your heart's fantasies, they may not lead to everything that you hoped for. This film is the comedy version of death and negativity, and can provide you with the simple joys in life. Go see it!
In Rome, the America tourist Hayley meets the local lawyer Michelangelo on the street and soon they fall in love with each other. Hayley's parents, the psychiatrist Phyllis and the retired music producer Jerry, travel to Rome to meet Michelangelo and his parents. When Jerry listens to Michelangelo's father Giancarlo singing opera in the shower, he is convinced that he is a talented opera singer. But there is a problem: Giancarlo can only sing in the shower. The couple Antonio and Milly travel to Rome to meet Antonio's relatives that belong to the high society. Milly goes to the hairdresser while Antonio waits for her in the room. Milly gets lost in Rome and the prostitute Anna mistakenly goes to Antonio's room. Out of the blue, his relatives arrive in the room and they believe Anna is Antonio's wife. Meanwhile the shy Milly meets her favorite actor Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese) and goes to his hotel room "to discuss about movies". One day, the middle-class clerk Leopoldo becomes a celebrity and is hunted by the paparazzo. A couple of days later, he is forgotten by the media. The American architect John travels to Rome with his wife and feels nostalgic since he lived in the city thirty years ago when he was a student. He meets the student of architecture Jack, who lives on the same street that John had lived, and he invited to drink a coffee at his house. Jack lives with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) that invites her best friend Monica to stay with them in their house. But soon Jack has a crush on Monica.
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!"
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.
The rest of the movie is Woody's typical, below average, antic-ridden ensemble comedy.
To Woody Allen fans with love
For some stranger reason people have decided not to like this movie. This movie is fantastic; critics are right to say it doesn't even come close to Midnight in Paris feet, but itself as a movie is amazing. In my opinion one of the best movies of 2012.
To Rome with Love encompasses four individual stories that somehow intertwine with each other. It is the story of an architect who goes back to Rome to revisit his adolescent memories. It is the story of a ordinary Italian, Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) who suddenly wakes up a celebrity. It is the story of a retired Opera director, Jerry (Woody Allen) who finds a way to get back in business, and the story of a young couple from the suburbs who move to Rome in hope to make it big. Each of these stories are extremely funny and have a fun pacing, with some meaning and message behind each and everyone of them.
This might be one of my favorite Woody films, and that is considering the fact I am a fan of his work. This movie for me had the perfect dose of comedy, and amazing pacing. Every story in the movie is incredibly realistic and believable, yet completely absurd. I found myself laughing every second.
Another thing that worked in this movie were the characters. I loved every character in this film, and somehow was able to relate to most of them. They all made me laugh, and at the same time rang a bell within me and like most Woody films, brought me to self reflection. The characters are believable too, and they all get an equal share of importance.
The actors in this movie are great! Alec Baldwin, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Allen, PenĂ (C)lope Cruz, Ellen Page, and the rest are just incredible. I must admit that I was scared of seeing Eisenberg in this movie because he generally seems so uncomfortable in front of the cameras, but I must say that Woody found the right role for him. This leads us to the next great thing that worked: Woody Allen.
I love the way Woody writes and directs his movie. He has his unique style; whether it be the camera work, the soundtrack selection, or the characters he creates, Woody is always able to make an impression and stamp originality in his work. To me this movie is Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask ,ameliorated. I loved him on and off screen every second of this movie. The dude knows what he is doing.
So forget what these critics are saying. This movie is fun, it is funny, and it is definitely worth checking out. I can honestly say this movie has been the funnest Summer flick for me, so if you are willing to take a risk you might love it too.
From Pedro, With Love
Anna: I am here to fulfill your dreams
Woody Allen is one of my favorite filmmakers, spoiling me lately with 2011's best film, Midnight in Paris, but unfortunately I can't add this to his oeuvre of greats. For any other filmmaker it would be a solid effort though.
Because it doesn't reach for the Altman Standard, the best way to review this film is by looking at the four individual shorts. The story about the architect has some funny moments, mostly due to Ellen Page's impersonation of Christina Ricci from Anything Else, but when Alec Baldwin said "ozymandias melancholia," I doubted that he read the Shelley poem; even more to the point, there isn't a very original concept here: every character predicts doom, and lo and behold, doom happens. Is Allen saying that even when we know our mistakes, we still make them? I can imagine that theme producing an interesting film, but this isn't it. The story about shower-singing opera singer produces a funny punchline, and it's great to see Judy Davis and Allen back together again, but it takes too long and too much work to get to the end. The story about the newlyweds was altogether uninteresting despite Penelope Cruz's best effort. The one story I liked was with Roberto Benigni whose natural effervesce lends that segment a joyful exuberance. However, what really sets this story apart is that it is comedy with substance, a satire about our penchant for people being famous for being famous and the associated perils. Like Allen's best comedy, this story is thought-provoking and comedic.
Overall, the performances, except for Alec Baldwin, are very good, but it's 75% broad comedy with good visual punchlines but not much substance.
It's no secret that he has a formula. When he's on his game, that formula can plume the depths of the human psyche better than most anyone; conversely, when he's not firing on all cylinders, his blueprint is stilted, cliched, and plays like a cheap imitation of a "Woody Allen film." His formula is just that: formulaic. To Rome With Love has a few charming and humorous moments, but collectively it lacks immediacy, and stumbles upon familiar terrain both cinematically and thematically, yet it has nothing insightful to say. He's been there, he's done that. And it shows. I don't need his films to be original (I love his point of view), but I do need them to matter. I hate to say it, but this film justifiably adds fuel to his critics' fire.
Meanwhile, Leopoldo(Roberto Benigni) becomes famous.
Jack(Jesse Eisenberg) recognizes John(Alec Baldwin) as a notable architect on the streets of Rome. Jack lives with Sally(Greta Gerwig) whose friend Monica(Ellen Page), an underemployed actor, is set to visit them.
Antonio(Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly(Alessandra Mastronardi), a couple of newlyweds come to Rome. While looking for a hairdresser, Milly gets hopelessly lost while Antonio gets an unexpected visit from Anna(Penelope Cruz), a prostitute.
Like a lot of Woody Allen's recent movies, "To Rome with Love" is a near miss, almost frustratingly so. On the plus side, the movie is a valuable reminder as to how much a valuable treasure Judy Davis is and if any actors were born to be in a Woody Allen film, it would be Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig.(To be honest, that segment would have been better if Gerwig and Page had swapped roles.) Plus, this movie is actually kind of deep at times, not to mention wistful, as it has more than a few things to say on the subject of fame which Woody Allen might know a thing or two about.
But apparently he has forgotten how to do farce as well as he used to, much less as well as "Orphan Black." That's not to mention the unwieldy structure, as the uneven segments should have run back to back instead of crosscutting between them, due to the different time frames involved in each. Even worse, no segment is as fully developed as it should have been. And then there is the one with the shower which should have sounded even too ludicrous on paper which is where it should have been left.
The movie features four storylines, all of which begin promisingly enough but after a few scenes from each you quickly realise this is not the Allen we're used to. The biggest mistake is having all four run together as it means by the halfway point (of an incredibly long two hours, epic by Allen's standards) you've lost interest in all of them.
Benigni is an average Joe who one day finds himself swarmed by paparazzi. He's become an instant star, famous for being famous, and is subjected to public scrutiny and made to answer bland questions on tacky Italian TV shows. This story has a decent punchline but the journey there consists of dull scene after dull scene of Benigni's usual irritating shtick.
The storyline featuring Allen himself is the most bearable, mostly due to his presence. He plays the father of Pill, who is marrying a young Italian man who Allen learns has an incredible singing voice but only while taking a shower. This develops into a Pythonesque over-played skit which somehow is stretched out for the entire movie. It's a three scene gag elongated to ten scenes.
The movie's handful of witty lines are divvied up between Allen and Baldwin who plays an architect dispensing advice to Eisenberg, a young student falling for Page, the pretentious actress friend of his girlfriend Gerwig. I was expecting some sort of a twist ending to this plot but it plays out to a climax so predictable you couldn't actually predict it. The worst part of this particular strand is Page, horrifically miscast as a "bombshell". Was Scarlett Johansson busy that week?
Worst of all is the fourth story-line, which sees a honeymooning young Italian couple separated, the groom having to pass off hooker Cruz as his wife while the bride finds herself in the arms of a randy actor. This plays out like an Italian version of a seventies British sitcom, devoid of any sophisticated wit or charm.
Allen keeps a drawer by his bed full of notes written on random pieces of paper which he sorts through when looking for the plot of his next film. It seems this time he found the four worst ideas but thankfully he used them all up in the one film. Up till now Allen has at worst been average but this is his first genuinely bad movie, not a bad record for over forty years of non-stop film-making. Ironically, those who usually despise Allen's films will probably be the ones who enjoy this the most. The rest of us will take comfort in knowing a Woody Allen comeback usually occurs every two years or so.