To Rome With Love
dir-scr Woody Allen
prd Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, Stephen Tenenbaum
with Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Woody Allen, Fabio Armiliato, Penelope Cruz, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi, Greta Gerwig, Judy Davis, Alison Pill, Flavio Parenti, Antonio Albanese, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ornella Muti
release It 20.Apr.12, US 22.Jun.12,
UK 14.Sep.12
12/Italy 1h52
To Rome With Love
Sex and the città: Allen and Davis (above), Tiberi and Cruz (below)
To Rome With Love

eisenberg page benigni
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
To Rome With Love Allen spins four separate tales into one frothy romp that's thoroughly enjoyable to watch even as it only barely breaks the surface. But it's packed with terrific actors and it makes Rome look gorgeous.

When John (Baldwin) visits the Rome neighbourhood where he lived as a student, he runs into Jack (Eisenberg), whose friend (Page) lures him from his girlfriend (Gerwig). Meanwhile, businessman Leopoldo (Benigni) is suddenly propelled into random paparazzi-pursued stardom. Jerry and Phyllis (Allen and Davis) arrive to meet the fiance (Parenti) of their daughter (Pill), then Jerry discovers that an in-law (Armiliato) might be an opera virtuoso. And finally, a young couple (Tiberi and Mastronardi) get separated in the big city: he has a farcical day with a buxom prostitute (Cruz), while she meets her favourite actor (Albanese).

Typically for Allen, each story is a miniature morality play as characters make snap decisions with comical consequences. He also playfully explores fame and relationships, most notably the elements that defy logic. Why are some people catapulted into celebrity while others aren't? Why do we have so little control over who we're attracted to? And wouldn't the world be a better place if we acknowledged the fact that life is messy and we learn from every experience?

All of this is mere subtext beneath some very silly goings-on. Two stories take turns into magical realism, while all of them rely on absurd coincidences. The Benigni tale is the slimmest, a joke about the randomness of success, while the young couple's separate odysseys are the stuff of fantasy. Mastronardi's journey is the most endearing, because its twists are amusing and sweet in distinctly non-Hollywood ways.

Actually, each storyline is charming, packed with witty dialog and performances that bristle with loose energy. Dialog feels improvised as actors bounce off each other effortlessly. Page is notable for giving her witty character tempting layers of subterfuge. And the nicest surprise is that Allen gives the stand-out performance as a pushy opera expert who refuses to retire (cue another hilarious retort from the wonderful Davis). So even if the fluffy themes never comes into focus, Darius Khondji's seductive cinematography and Allen's observational perspective keep us smiling.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 11.Sep.12

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... To Rome With Love Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall