There is a line around the start of To Rome With Love that states ‘everything has happened so fast’.
is a line around the start of To Rome
With Love that states ‘everything has happened so fast’.
While that is true for that particular scene, (in which two strangers hook up
and get engaged within the first three minutes of the film) it is actually true
of the entire film. Nearly everything that takes place in Woody Allen’s
latest, zips by at such a delicate pace that the film actually become better
After London (Match Point),
Barcelona (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Paris (Midnight in Paris), Woody
Allen’s sightseeing tour of Europe’s grandest cities brings him to Rome. Out of
all his European ventures this may be the one most personal to Woody. A self
confessed fan of the directors like Federico Fellini and Bernardo
Bertolucci, for Allen to make a film in Italy must have been a dream come
true. And although he doesn’t manage to quite pay a fitting tribute to those
greats, he does manage to craft a film so warm and charming that you can easily
overlook the cracks.
To Rome With Love is essentially four
stories told in intermittent patterns throughout the film. Two of the stories
follow young couples and the tribulations that come with their relationships. Jesse
Eisenberg is a student, studying to be an architect. He has a stable
relationship with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig), until
intellectual seductress Monica (Ellen Page) arrives and threatens to
disrupt the relationship with her knowledge of Dostoevsky and Gaudi.
The next is a young, just married, Italian couple. Both are cute and meek but
their relationship lacks any real fiery passion. This all gets thrown into
disarray after the woman; Milly, gets lost on a walk around the city. By chance
she happens to walk onto a film set that is starring a host of her favourite
Italian actors. One of them , Luca Salta, becomes instantly attracted to her.
Likewise her husband gets in the situation of accidentally being caught with a
prostitute in his room. When said
prostitute is Penelope Cruz, you have little sympathy for him.
The remaining two stories look at older
individuals and comically analyse their sudden rise in celebrity. One story
sees an American girl’s parents visit her and her new Italian fiancée and his
parents. Quickly into their visit her father, played by Woody Allen discovers
that the Italian father has the most incredible opera voice. Trying to get him
to sing in public is one thing but it becomes abundantly clear that he can only
sing whilst in the shower. The final story see Roberto Benigni’s hapless
clerk, become an overnight national treasure. Without any explanation his day-to-day
activities are broadcast as if they were the most important news in the world.
Obviously this can be viewed as a serious look at the disposable celebrities of
today, but simply put, it’s just really funny.
There are a lot of things wrong with To
Rome With Love. The script is shoddy and one dimensional in parts. Only a few
characters get really interesting or funny lines and most of these tend to go
to Woody Allen himself. Like most of his films he is generally the best element
of them. Unfortunately he’s just not in it enough, whilst more annoying
characters are constantly thrown at us. Ellen Page’s Monica is a truly
detestable person. Full of clichés and infuriating habits, she is highly
unlikeable. Combine this with the fact she shares a lot of her screen time with
the fast talking Jesse Eisenberg (who bizarrely has Alec Baldwin as his
sexual conscience) makes them just an irritating couple.
Those niggles put aside, To Rome With
Love is a flawed film with a big heart. You could never accuse Woody Allen of
making a soulless film. Even when the film fails to work it is still possible
to find something appealing. One thing that does work is the stunning use of
Rome’s architecture and scenery. Allen’s previous European films could be
accused of phoning it in with the choices of location and backdrop. Such is the
classical beauty of Rome this is never a problem and actually enhances the
aesthetic of the film. Everything is here, from the immaculate ruins to the
roaming piazzas. Add this to the genuine laughs and you have a bonafide crowd
pleaser. You may not feel like it when watching To Rome With Love but you’ll
have a big smile on your face when the credits roll.