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To Rome With Love

To Rome With Love

Released 14 September 2012
Director Woody Allen
Starring




Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page
Writer(s) Woody Allen
Producer(s)


Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Giampaolo Letta, Faruk Alatan
Origin United States, Italy, Spain
Running Time 112 minutes
Genre Comedy, romance
Rating 12A
78

That’s amore.

Woody Allen continues his extended holiday around Europe with a trip to Rome. It’s been a tumultuous affair with enjoyable highs and cringeworthy lows. Happily, To Rome With Love provides more of the former than the latter.

For a start, Woody is actually in this one. For the first time since Scoop in 2006, we have the Real McCoy to enjoy rather than a stand-in doing their best Woody impression. I couldn’t help it; when he appeared onscreen I felt a rush of the warm fuzzies. As Annie Hall once sang, it felt like old times. Though he may be older, he still has the same wonderful sense of timing and the same screen presence he always had. As a storyteller though, he has lost something crucial here - focus. To Rome With Love is another of his portmanteau films tied together by location and while there is no dud among the four different narratives, I still occasionally felt like he should pick a story and stick to it.

There are four strands of narrative fighting for supremacy here. A middle aged man (Alec Baldwin) revisits his time living in the city as a student when he became embroiled in a love triangle (Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page); a small town Italian couple find their fidelity tested by the charms of movie stars and scantily-clad prostitutes (Penelope Cruz); an ordinary man (Roberto Benigni) finds himself suddenly famous for no reason in particular; a retired opera producer (Allen) discovers a new Caruso who can only perform in the shower.

All of the stories have their pleasures; there are many laugh out loud moments scattered liberally among them. Occasionally though, I felt that some of the stories needed more room to breathe and deserved a little more time. The Roberto Benigni narrative is a perfectly contained little bit of silliness whereas I felt the Alec Baldwin section could happily have had more attention paid to it.

To Rome With Love is a flawed piece of filmmaking but mainly because in some respects it left me wanting more; and that is not exactly a damning criticism. Silly and more than a little surreal, it feels like Woody had a good time making this one and that feeling is infectious.

- Linda O’Brien