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To Rome, with Love - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
To Rome, with Love
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Directing: B
Acting: B-
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B
Editing: B


Midnight in Paris is a tough act to follow. But when you're Woody Allen, you really have no choice. This is a guy who has been churning out movies once a year for four decades, like it's an OCD tick. Sometimes it kind of feels like getting one more off the assembly line is more important to him than making a film of true quality.

So, there are bound to be clunkers. Honestly Woody Allen has more than a few. But he also has several pretty great ones. And there's something to be said for mere familiarity. As long as it's not terrible, his movies have an enduring charm.

That is, essentially, where To Rome, with Love comes in. Anyone who feels only the great Woody Allen films are worth the time might as well skip it. But the faithful won't feel like they've wasted their time. I didn't. The guy has done better -- several in the past few years -- but he's certainly done way worse.

Evidently intended as a love letter to Rome, this lacks the layered themes -- and thus much of the charm -- of Midnight in Paris, but there's still a somewhat infectious sort of romanticism here. There's also a lot of lapses in logic, but whatever.

We follow four separate stories that apparently don't intersect. They are just four stories of Rome, as if chosen at random.

Allen himself appears as a recently retired producer of oddball opera productions, flying in to Rome with his wife to meet their soon-to-be son-in-law. Said son-in-law's father turns out to have a natural opera singing voice, but only in the shower. Inevitably this results in fully staged operas with the guy literally singing inside a shower stall on stage. Many have said this isn't as funny as it was clearly intended, but I kind of got a kick out of it.

Just as weird but in a different way is Alec Baldwin as a guy revisiting the neighborhood where he once lived in his twenties. He befriends a young man, Jack, (Jesse Eisenberg), going through a similar experience, and imparts words of wisdom or warnings as the best friend (Ellen Page) of the young girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) swoops in for a visit and causes the Jack's eye to wander. Why Alec Baldwin is always there, sort of like a ghost but one with whom all the others around him interact only occasionally, is never explained.

Roberto Benigni is Leopoldo, a clerk who suddenly becomes famous for no reason -- quite literally. The film never gives us a reason, and Leopoldo is as baffled by it as we are. Allen seems to be making a statement about the pointlessness of reality TV fame, with only moderate success. At least Benigni is game and fun to watch.

Lastly, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) are a married couple separated after Milly loses her phone and gets lost outside the hotel, only to happen on a film production and get seduced by an Italian movie star. Meanwhile, Antonio is seduced by a prostitute (Penelope Cruz) who ends up having to pose as his wife in front of Antonio's family.

It's all harmless hijacks just this side of screwball, with more than once plot twist that seriously strain the boundaries of believability, even in a movie like this. The performances are pretty stock for a Woody Allen film, widely known for free improvisation. But the story bounces along nicely, nothing special but something to keep you entertained while you're there.

Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg do the Woody Allen thang.</a>


Overall: B-
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