Saturday, July 7, 2012

To Rome with Love

A Roman traffic director informs us that he all that happens in the City of the Seven Hills and introduces us to  a series of unconnected stories in the enchanting city: an opera director (Woody Allen) travelling with his wife (Judy Davis) sees his next act in the prospective father-in-law (singer Fabio Armiliato) of his daughter (Alison Pill). An established architect (Alec Baldwin) encounters a younger one (Jesse Eisenberg) staying in the same flat he once did and gives him advice as he ponders cheating on his girfriend (Greta Gerwig) with a sultry actress (Ellen Page). Two young lovers both find themselves in inexplicable romantic scenarios, he with a gorgeous call girl (Penelope Cruz) and she with a famous movie star (Antonio Albanese). Finally, a blowhard middle class man (Roberto Benigni) inexplicably finds himself the most famous celebrity in town. "To Rome with Love" is the 43rd film from the durable and inimitable Woody Allen, and is a blithe love letter in yet another European megalopolis. The locations and photography look gorgeous, while the various stories are hit or miss, ranging from quite hilarious to mildly diverting. The segment involving Woody and his latest inspiration is probably the best and contains the most laughs. The one involving the two young lovers has its moments (Cruz is delightful) but carries on way too long before winding up at the expected conclusion. The segment involving the architects and the one with the schmuck achieving stardom are examples of juxtaposition done both well and poorly. Baldwin sort of exists offstage during Eisenberg and Page's affair and the results are actually pretty comical. Benigni's segment (which may be the most personal for Woody) is slightly amusing within itself, but doesn't mesh with the rest of the film, and again goes on for far too long. On the heels of "Midnight in Paris", people were expecting another masterpiece, which this is not. Again though, I feel that people are lowballing this film, simply because it is not one of his grandest works. With "To Rome with Love", Woody Allen has crafted an amusing and diverting film, yes not among his greats, but still one that no other person on the planet is capable of making.