112 min - Comedy | RomanceRatings: 6.5/10 from 13,138 users Metascore: 54/100 Reviews: 91 user | 195 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com Director: Woody Allen Writer: Woody Allen Stars:Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg
A man pauses from directing traffic and directs his attention to the camera. He starts a monologue that will set the theme for the movie. Annie Hall started the same way but its initial monologue likely contained months of stand-up material. This one is the product of a few minutes of rapid scribbling, I assume.
Comparing To Rome with Love with Woody’s masterpiece is both cliché and unfair. He releases two movies a year. Assuming he can release a Match Point and a Manhattan a year is just unrealistic. Taking that in consideration, this is still a subpar movie.
Woody uses constant light music to conduct us seamlessly through four unrelated stories. They may be comparable in terms of theme (love and betrayal) but none of the characters have much in common apart from their setting, beautiful Rome. An American young couple living in Rome (Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig) welcomes in their home an unlikely attempt of portrayal of a sexy home-wrecker in Ellen Page. A recently married Italian couple that moves to Rome on their honey moon, in hopes of a more cosmopolitan life. A tourist (Alison Pill) that becomes enchanted with the local delicatessen (Alessandro Tiberi), her parents (Woody Allen and Judy Davis) and his parents. A middle age, middle class, middle everything Roman couple.
From the four stories only the last one is truly interesting. Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) becomes famous overnight for doing absolutely nothing. The way he eats, sleeps and shaves become of national importance. A blunt satire at today’s media and a cautionary tale about the rapid ascent of the famous. It would have been an excellent five minute sketch, but Woody made it a quarter of a film, that stands completely apart from the rest. A shame. In his work there is no lack of good ideas that could enrich this movie, without having to stretch this one beyond salvation. Just browse through his Complete Prose to find innumerous examples.
As in the recent Midnight in Paris, we see here one of the unique features in Woody’s movies: he doesn’t try to conceal that these are, in fact, movies. Leopoldo’s ascent to fame is clearly a parable. It’s impossible, and there’s no attempt at an explanation. The traffic conductor just starts talking to the camera. Alec Baldwin’s character ceases to be an intervenient in a three way dialogue and from then on becomes either a conscience or a random voice in Jesse Eisenberg character’s head. No questions asked. “Take a back seat logic, this is a movie.”
Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one.