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To Rome with Love

To Rome with Love: The Cheery Side of Woody Allen

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  • ComedyRomance
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  • Woody Allen
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Marija Loncarevic
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To Rome with Love: The Cheery Side of Woody Allen
Woody Allen’s love-affair with Europe is not over quite yet; the quirky director chooses yet another European city backdrop for his latest cinematic creation.  

Taking into consideration the director’s previous efforts outside of his beloved New York, To Rome with Love is essentially his weakest productions to date. However, despite its clumsy and unrefined approach, To Rome with Love is still a bubbly delight.

Hayley (Pill) and Michelangelo (Parenti), an American tourist and a handsome Rome resident, meet, fall in love and soon after become engaged; an a occasion brings Hayley’s parents, Phyllis (Davis) and Jerry (Allen) over from New York. Her father, a retired Opera director who is restless in his new lifestyle – regularly comparing it to death – soon becomes obsessed with Michelangelo’s father, Giancarlo (Armiliato); a happy-go-lucky undertaker with a hidden talent.

In a different stand of the story, successful American architect John (Baldwin) returns to Rome to relive his young adulthood years where he meets a young architect-student Jack (Eisenberg). Jack is living with his girlfriend Sally (Gerwig), who complicates matters when she decides to bring in her flighty and alluring best-friend Monica (Page) for the summer.

Another side plot is of Antonio (Tiberi) and Milly (Mastronardi); a newlywed couple visiting Rome for their honeymoon. Things gets messy for the young lovers when Antonio accidentally encounters haughty prostitute, Anna (Cruz), while trying to impress his snotty relatives for a possible job promotion, while Milly gets up to adventures of her own while lost in search of a hair salon.

Finally, there is Leopoldo (Benigni); a working-class family man who one day awakens to find that he’s become famous, for no apparent reason. With reporters following his every move, Leopoldo becomes one of the most famous men in Italy.

While To Rome with Love doesn’t spark in the same way that Allen’s best does, each storyline still holds a certain glow and light heartedness that makes it hard not to love and appreciate the director’s efforts. Allen never bothers to bring in the storylines together; they each play out to their own whimsical beat and the idea that all four of the scenarios could be happening in the course of one day, week or a month poses no real obstruction.

The film’s major problem is that it ultimately doesn’t give each of the stories enough attention to fully develop.  It seems a case of too much to say, not enough time to say it, and the script often wanders into incoherence and pointless noise.

But To Rome with Love is redeemed by its wonderful cast; Allen, Davis and Benigni provide the best laughs and are an absolute privilege and joy to watch on screen.  The rest of the ensemble – apart from Page who was critically miss-cast in the role of a ‘seductive’ best-friend –  are proficient at best as necessary cogs in the machinery of the film

Neither here nor there, To Rome with Love shows us the lighter side of the otherwise highly neurotic and pessimistic director; reminding us that he too is capable of looking at the brighter side of life.    

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This is Roberto Benigni's first appearance in a wide American release since Pinocchio, and only his second since his Academy Award winning performance in the widely praised Life Is Beautiful in 1997.

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