To Rome With Love didn’t seem to have an official release date up to a couple of weeks ago and then out of nowhere it suddenly appeared on the listings for UK cinemas. Whether Woody Allen was just trying to keep us on our toes or not doesn’t massively matter because To Rome With Love has turned out to be yet another charmingly funny, thought provoking movie.
The film is a collection of unconnected stories set to the backdrop of the stunning architecture of Rome. While the tourist movie criticism isn’t entirely without validity – you probably will want to visit Rome after watching it – it is still one of the summer’s funniest films.
Written and Directed by Allen, the narrative, dialogue, cinematography and cast is, as ever, brilliant. Each shot of the movie is the perfect window on the stories, and the flirts with farce stop short just at the right moment to ensure the scenes are funny without becoming too silly.
Allen plays former music director Jerry who visits Rome with his wife Phyllis to see their daughter Hayley, and to meet her new fiancée, Michelangelo. When Jerry meets the family and hears the father in law, Giancarlo, singing in the shower, he bakes up a plan to come out of retirement for the new vocal sensation he thinks he’s discovered.
Though Allen is occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, he’s also the weak link of the film with his acting and seemingly semi-improvised script sticking at times. Directing himself can’t be easy though, so the small stilts are easily forgiven. However, Fabio Armiliato, who plays Michelangelo’s father Giancarlo, and the scenes he’s given are consistently hilarious.
The same can also be said of Roberto Benigni, who’s character, Leopoldo, suddenly and miraculously becomes famous, much to his initial distress. It’s a brilliant little allegory that adds a lot to the film’s comic appeal.
Penélope Cruz plays prostitute Anna with what appears to be a second skin. She’s got great timing and brings the story of the young country couple moving to the big city to life.
All of the stories are enchanting, but the story of John’s (played by Alec Baldwin) return to Rome is perhaps the most engaging. Having lived there as a young man, he walks the streets of Rome reliving the love of his youth through the collective triangle of couple Jack (Jesse Eisenberg – Adventureland) and Sally (Greta Gerwig) and her visiting best friend, Monica (Ellen Page – Super). Needless to say, things get fraught, but the way that the story unfolds has got a real unique quality to it that makes it so interesting
To Rome For Love may not have gotten much in the way of fanfare in the run up to its release, but it’s definitely a film that will become more highly regarded the more it’s watched.
To Rome With Love review: 4.6/5
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