To Rome With Love
Written and directed by Woody Allen, To Rome With Love is comprised of four disjointed stories, each one bringing its own strength and reflecting Woody’s genius for sharp-tongued dialogue and extraordinarily engaging characters.
John (Alec Baldwin) is an eminent architect vacationing in the glorious city of Rome, reliving his youth and visiting his old haunts. Encountering Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a seemingly reincarnated, younger version of himself, John finds himself watching Jack fall unquestionably in love with his girlfriend Sally’s (Greta Gerwig) libidinous friend, Monica (Ellen Page). Through Jack, John seems to experience again one of his own romantically challenged affairs, despite his “conscience-like” effort to warn Jack of the imminent dangers of falling for Monica.
In the meantime, eccentric retired opera director Jerry (Woody Allen) and his wife Phyllis (Judy Davis) have flown out to Rome to meet their newly engaged daughter Hayley (Alison Pill) and her Italian fiancée, Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). Comedy ensues on immediate introduction to Jerry, not least when his passion to reignite his career is lit on meeting Michelangelo’s talented father. Undertaker Giancarlo’s (renowned tenor, Fabio Armiliato) singer ability blows Jerry away, albeit confined to within a shower, and convinced that this Herculean singing talent should not be concealed, Jerry sets about to promote Giancarlo.
On the Italian side of To Rome With Love we have Leopoldo Pisanello (Robert Benigni), a profoundly normal man living a prominently standard, middle-class existence with his wife and children…until one day he becomes famous. The fame game grows increasingly appealing and although Leopoldo has no idea as to why he is famous, he soon begins to enjoy the perks, the women and the attention. That is until the fame is taken away from him, just as quickly as it was thrust upon him. Leopoldo’s story illustrates a very accurate portrait of fame and its cost.
The final percentile of the film is left to the newly wed couple Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) who have arrived in Rome with ambitions of bigger city jobs. In the space of one day, and through amazing comic misunderstanding, the couple find themselves absorbed into the centre of Rome with passion coming at them from all angles, in ways they would never have dreamed of! Antonio’s encounter with call girl Ana (Penelope Cruz) is particularly amusing.
Rome provides the perfect backdrop for Woody Allen’s latest film; both romantic and classical, the juxtaposition of the characters chaotic lifestyle makes for maximum impact. Baldwin really comes up trumps with his role as Jack’s conscience, and Allen directs his own role to perfection.
The cinematography is exceptional, but with surroundings such as those Rome has to offer, there really is no excuse for anything but picturesque shots over this magical city.
The film is a warm comedy, dishing up just the right amount of Italian – another great success for Woody Allen.
Watch the trailer here