“I see all in Roma; All is a story.”
Woody Allen is one of the most recognized names in Hollywood. Whether he is front of the camera acting or in behind it writing and/or directing, this gifted man has been entertaining audiences for decades. This time, fresh off of his previous Oscar nominated film, Midnight in Paris, Allen has wrote, directed, & stars in the indie comedy, To Rome, With Love.
Your tour of Italy will begin with a Roman traffic cop welcoming you and affirming that everyone has a story. Among the stories that you will encounter on your tour of Italy is the emotional conflict facing an architect student named Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), when his girlfriend’s (Greta Gerwig) best friend Monica (Ellen Page) comes to Rome. Along to “help” him through it is famous architect John (Alec Baldwin). Coming up on your right, you will find out what happens when Jerry, a retired opera director (Woody Allen) stumbles on an unlikely opportunity back into the spotlight when he & wife Phyllis (Judy Davis) go to Rome to see their daughter Hayley (Alison Pill) upon her engagement to fiancee Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). Also on the tour, you will see the misadventures of Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) & Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi), a young couple on their honeymoon as well as the stardom that suddenly follows a regular working class “schmuck”, Leopoldo Pisanello (Roberto Benigni).
Rome is the most that I have laughed in a movie theater since The Avengers. The humor is well placed, intelligent, at times absurdist but still very funny. When you consider To Rome, With Love is armed to the teeth with a talented & colorful cast, it’s really no surprise that it was an enjoyable time. When I posted my list of must –see movies of the summer (see the complete list over at my post, The 10 Summer Movies of 2012 You Should Check Out), I mentioned that the story arc between Jack and Monica was my main motivation in seeing this movie. I was very pleased to see the interaction between Eisenberg & Page as well as Baldwin’s interaction with Eisenberg. [If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand exactly what I am talking about.] There are elements to be enjoyed in each story (such as Woody Allen attempting to get back in the business as only Woody Allen can or the social commentary illustrated by the sudden celebrity status of Leopoldo Pisanello). Each actor brought a unique element to making this movie funny while for the most part not resorting to repeating the same interchangeable jokes.
While the movie is very funny & well acted, there seemed to be no maintained rhythm of which story would appear next. It would randomly jump from story to story. Although Rome is much more that the following phrase, its narrative flow could make this movie feel like of an educated Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve. This could put some critic off about the movie overall. However, it doesn’t affect the individual stories themselves but be warned. Rome’s R rating stems from a few double entendres including a saucy story but never explicit nudity.
In the face of mixed reviews, I still say that To Rome, With Love is a film worth seeking. Rome’s acting as well as humor brings some much needed relief to the comedy film genre. In a summer that has released the same old “comedies” such as That’s My Boy & Ted, it’s refreshing to have a comedy with a brain cell that’s edgy without continuously resorting to over the top lewdness. If you want to have a great laugh, find your local travel agent (independent movie theater) & go book your ticket to go to Rome! A-