Review: To Rome With Love


Director:Woody Allen

Cast:Woody Allen, Roberto Benigni, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jesse Eisenberg

Running Time:111 Minutes


Allen's best work in the past decade has tended to focus the
formerly New York-centric filmmaker's visual focus on a new city, be it London
(Match Point, the wildly
misunderstood and much under-seen Cassandra's
Dream), Paris (Midnight in Paris),
or Barcelona (Vicky Cristina Barcelona).  With To Rome with Love, he continues his international experiment to
lesser results by using the city to tell a scattered group of magical realist
vignettes that probably are the result of tossed-off or incomplete ideas.  At his worst, Allen can make a truly
befuddling disaster of a film, and this time around he's done better, but it's
only that second tier of Allen films that seems like he made it just because he

Allen himself features in one of the film's four parallel stories,
none related very well thematically or otherwise. Though his story, where he
plays an opera director meeting his daughter's fiancé, is the film's funniest
and most inspired.  Perhaps seeing
Allen onscreen again is the entire show since his comedic talents brighten up
every scene he's in.  On the other
hand, the young actors Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page, so respectively great in
other work recently, seem miscast as, well, Allen types.

Roberto Benigni's whole Roberto Benigni
thing isn't nearly as irritating as his endless, one-joke subplot about an
office worker who suddenly becomes an overnight celebrity.  Somewhere in between is the story of
Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi as newlyweds trying to find each
other "“ the story itself is a forgettable Allen-lite bit about sexual
discoveries, but the arrival of Penelope Cruz as a local prostitute
raises the material.

Though Allen claims to be hard at work on his next film, it
wouldn't have surprised me if To Rome
with Love was his last film. 
It's not a particularly good Allen film; it's not even a particularly
funny one, but it's also not a particularly bad or unfunny one.  It is curiously lacking in ambition,
though, and for such a prolific filmmaker, this may be the first time it seems
like he's just made a movie to pass the time.  One could always do worse than pass the time with Woody
Allen, at the very least.


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