Wednesday, 31 July 2013

To Rome With Love (2012)

I think I'm probably the only person on the planet, and certainly the only Woody fan, who didn't really get the appeal of Midnight In Paris, so with that in mind, I wasn't especially bothered by the reviews that To Rome With Love faced.

Roberto Benigni in the film's most inventive and funny vignette

I can understand the criticism, the four vignettes have no cohesive link with one another which whilst frustrating for some viewers is nonetheless understandable as Allen clearly didn't want them to link. Some of them are amusing enough and seem to have some kind of tract on opinion - Woody's opera director has the opinion that his new find is a superb singer which no one can see until the man sings the only way he can, in the shower, Roberto Benigni's ordinary man bores everyone with his opinions which no one wants to hear until he's turned suddenly into a celebrity and everyone wants to court his opinion on everything, and Alec Baldwin seems to be some kind of mentor/Jiminy Cricket/older version of Jesse Eisenberg, advising him through life and offering opinion, but this coda is absent in Alessandro Tiberi's story (which I believe is a play on a Fellini film, The White Sheik)

As per usual in Woody movies the exposition heavy dialogue/lexicon really crashes around your ears and it's even worse seeing it writ large on the screen in subtitles but after about 20 mins with the plot(s) in motion this becomes less of an issue.

Penelope Cruz in that dress, looking hot

Ellen Page, perfect Woody woman

The diverse cast equip themselves well though, notably Eisenberg playing an obvious Allen type) Benigni and Penelope Cruz having a ball as a sultry hooker. But it's Ellen Page who really takes the honours. I really hope Woody uses her again in another (better) movie as she took to his style like a duck to water. Though it is fair to say she's playing the same young attractive pseudo intellectual woman mould Woody has been using for donkeys years now, she nevertheless does it brilliantly. Ignore any review that says she's miscast - they're idiots.

l to r Judy Davis, Woody and Allison Pill

It's nice to see Judy Davis back in a Woody film, and indeed even nicer to see Woody himself in front of the cameras for the first time since 2006. Allison Pill - playing their daughter - also returns to Woody's world after her debut in Midnight In Paris. I'm a  big fan of her in The Newroom so it's a shame that once again her potential is wasted here in a role that promises more but ultimately is quite slight. Indeed that vignette is amusing enough but very one note. But Alec Baldwin, whilst perfectly serviceable it must be said, looks like shit these days - skin like putty, eyes like pissholes in the snow, deeply overweight and far too preoccupied with his hair...much like all the Baldwins I guess, making it now even harder to differentiate between them!

Alec Baldwin looking like shit
 Jesse Eisenberg doing a Woody impressions

Not as bad as some would have it and if you failed to see the appeal of Midnight In Paris but still like Woody (like me) you'll find this another so-so movie from him. Watch it specifically for the Eisenberg/Ellen and Benigni vignettes - the former is classic Allen, the latter is almost like early days Allen, surreal and funny. I just wish the money people would have allowed Woody his original title 'Nero Fiddles'. So much better.


  1. I'm a big Woody Allen fan, but haven't seen this one yet. I just needed to log in that I absolutely was left out in the cold over what I thought was the charmless, "Midnight in Paris."
    No one I know felt the same, but it seemed like his "Alice" crossed with the historical/anachronistic comedy of "Love and Death." I was stunned by how audiences responded. It felt so familiar.

    1. Thank you Ken! It's so good to see I'm not alone!!

      What was worse for us British fans is that the plot to Midnight In Paris was achingly familiar to a rather tepid sitcom we had in the 90s called Goodnight Sweetheart, in which the put upon everyman husband of a social climber finds a street which, when he walks down, takes him back to the Blitz torn London of the 1940s...where he meets many famous people including the likes of Noel Coward.