To Rome With Love

Bill C’s Review – 2 out of 5

I have been a long-time Woody Allen fan, going back to his early, early days where he just went for laughs with such movies as Bananas, Take the Money and Run and Play It Again Sam and with more seriously themed classics such as Annie Hall (one of my all time favorites) and Manhattan. But the last 20 years or so have been hit-or-miss (with a lot more misses). Unfortunately, following last year’s hit, Midnight in Paris, his latest movie is one of the misses.

To Rome With Love follows four unrelated stories all set in Rome. The movie keeps switching between the four vignettes and, while I hoped at some point they would be tied together, they never were. The stories were also not related in time. One took place in just a single day, but the others were longer, which made the back-and-forth editing seem strange.

The movie had some some funny moments (my favorites involved the opera singer) but the laughs were not sustained. Like most of Woody’s recent movies, this had a strong cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Allison Pill, Judy Davis, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen, Ellen Page (miscast I believe) and numerous Italian actors/actresses including Roberto Benigni. I enjoyed the performances by Penelope Cruz and Roberto Benigni but no one else really stood out. This was Woody Allen’s first performance on screen in several years and, while I’ve enjoyed his past performances, I think he should think twice before casting himself again. He played the father of Allison Pill’s character but would probably more appropriately have played her grandfather.

This is one Woody Allen movie that I would skip.

Bill I’s Review – 2 out of 5

7 cent fudgsicles, Raquel Welch, my ability to leap high on the basketball court, and Woody Allen movies. What do these all have in common? Right, they were all much better back in the day…way back in the day, just like Bill says above. I thought this movie was rediculous in terms of plot and believability. It worked for me in only a couple of aspects: as a paen to Rome (just like the book Eat, Pray, Love did for me, makes me want to go there walk around and eat the great food) and as an excuse to take in the beautiful Penelope Cruz doing what she does best. Other than that Woody has clearly exhausted his obsession with infidelity; only three of the four plot lines have infidelity as a plot device. Hey we know, Woody…”the heart wants what the heart wants”…its played out in every one of your movies now. Try something different. OK, he has a middle-aged Italian mortician who attains fame singing opera in the shower. That’s a funny idea, but how many minutes do we need to see him scrubbing away while he hits the high notes?

There are excellent actors here, all doing their best with this foolishness. But when is the last time you felt embarrased for Alec Baldwin? I did here, watching him play an all-knowing adult advising the young Jesse Eisenberg not to fall in love with his girlfriend’s best friend. Alex points out the obvious, time and time again, and most of it he’s supposed to be invisible to everyone but Jesse. Funny? I don’t think so and neither will you. Woody, maybe you should make like some of your favorite old-time Knicks and just retire.

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3 thoughts on “To Rome With Love”

  1. I really wanted to love this movie because a) I loved my trip to Rome last year and b) I loved Woody’s previous film, Midnight in Paris. But To Rome with Love was not good on many fronts: the dialogue, the editing, some of the casting (Ellen Page?), and even the music. By the end of the movie, I was starting to hate the young Italian couple as well as their theme music. I like opera, but even I agree with Bill I’s comment about the extremely long opera scenes. And neither of you mentioned the worst part: subtitles!

    1. I think Ellen Page would have been miscast if the guy she seduced was played by someone other than Jessie Eisenberg. I think the casting worked in this case, because Jessie is so idiosyncratic that he did appear to be better matched with Ellen than with Greta Gerwig. In fact, I wondered why Greta would be attracted to Jessie. And they are all good actors, but again, I hated the plot and Alec Baldwin’s character seemed totally out of synch and extraneous…

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