Woody Allen films do not have the ‘perfect’ narrative. The screenplay isn’t always logical, so to speak. The performances can go a bit over-the-top at times too. However, it is the charm that the director brings to his films. No one can capture a picturesque city as beautifully as Allen does. The way his ‘Match Point’ encapsulated London’s elegance, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ emanated the serenity of the Spanish locations and ‘Midnight In Paris’ showed the eternal romanticism of the city, is unparalleled. Woody Allen, in the film ‘To Rome With Love’, wonderfully captures the Italian capital. Within the historic city, there are instances which are life-changing and yet, innocuous.
Although, not in the same league as Woody Allen’s previous films, the film is a must-watch for his fans. The film, even if a bit long and tedious for the viewer, does pack some wonderful moments. Definitely recommend a DVD-watch, if not in a theatre.
The film has four parallel stories; a well-known American architect John (Alec Baldwin) encountering a young couple, Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) and Sally (Greta Gerwig), and their irresistibly attractive friend Monica (Ellen Page), and becoming an active part of their daily lives and romantic liaisons; an average middle class Roman Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) escalating from the position of a clerk to an overnight celebrity; a newlywed couple - Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) hooking up with the sensuous call-girl Anna (Penélope Cruz) and the Italian superstar Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese) respectively; and an American opera director Jerry (Woody Allen) trying to revive his flagging career. Confused? You shouldn’t be, because most of Woody Allen’s films have such a premise. The film slows down considerably when too much of time is dedicated to a particular track. Although the way Rome forms such a wonderful backdrop to these intricate stories is magnificent, the scenes do drag a bit more than you would expect.
This film is full of exceptional moments. Be it Benigni revelling in his newfound popularity, Allen’s circumspect silence, Baldwin’s deadpan expressions, Eisenberg’s trademark dialogue delivery, Ellen Page’s range, Penelope’s audaciousness or the brilliant efforts put in by the rest of the cast, the film excels in the acting department. The scenes are a bit too long, but the dialogues are so delightful that you’d still let out a guffaw!
Woody Allen’s films are more about moments and less about impeccable narratives. However, ‘To Rome With Love’ slips during the second half. The pugnacity with which the initial half of the film is made, is found missing in the second half. It takes too long for all the tracks to reach their logical conclusion. Director Woody Allen, who also wrote the film, does not show the same form that he did with his ‘Midnight In Paris’. However, the film could have been a lot more monotonous had it been made by any other filmmaker. Woody, doubling up as an actor, manages to lift the film at crucial junctures.
Woody Allen fans will like it. For those who haven’t watched a single Allen film, you could give this a shot after watching a couple of his ‘noteworthy’ films. Woody, Benigni and Baldwin, watch it for the legends!