To Rome with Love
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
After a long and prosperous career that has given us such films as Manhattan, Love and Death, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and his Oscar-winning Annie Hall, Woody Allen still manages to turn out a new film every year. And for some time now the observation has been made that Allen makes one good film, followed by one not so good, or occasionally even bad. Last year he gave us Midnight in Paris, which made my ten best list. This year we get To Rome With Love, which was very difficult to sit through.
To Rome With Love is a mess of a movie that wants to be so many things that it succeeds at being none. It wants to be a Woody Allen movie. It wants to be an Italian movie. It wants to be a nod to The Decameron, a collection of stories in which sex is the motivating force. Allen’s original title for the film was The Bop DeCameron, until he figured out no one would know what that meant. Then it was changed to Nero Fiddled. But ended up with the bland To Rome With Love. Too bad that much time and effort wasn’t spent on the script.
Comprised of four unrelated tales, Allen seems to emulate some of the Italian multi-episode films of the sixties, such as Vittorio DeSica’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow or Boccaccio '70, which had four directors, including Fellini.
We all know Allen can direct. Midnight in Paris proved that once again. But his scripts have been losing their zing, with this one for To Rome With Love being extremely disappointing. The jokes weren’t funny; the characters were, for the most part, bland and even unsympathetic. And worst of all, even though this has been said for years, it’s really time for Woody Allen to get off the screen. Although not a lead role, his appearance in To Rome With Love is not only distracting, but also downright annoying.
As for the rest of the cast, Penelope Cruz oozes charm as a very popular Roman prostitute, and another Allen regular, Judy Davis, is fine as Allen’s wife. Also showing up are Jesse Eisenberg, from The Socila Network, Ellen Page from Juno, Oscar-winner Roberto Benegni, and Greta Gerwig, who is making a name for herself in indie films, is given virtually nothing to do. Also along for this Roman holiday is Alec Baldwin, who seems to be in almost every third movie lately, and turns in his usual dependable performance. There are many Italian performers in here, none familiar in the U.S. and none who are likely to be. Some are ok, some are not.
In trying to put ten pounds of “stuff” in a five pound bag, Allen seems to have not only lost focus of what he wants to accomplish, but has lost control as well. The film is haphazard, confusing, and in a couple of instances makes absolutely no sense at all. At 112 minutes it’s one of Allen’s longest films, and unfortunately feels even longer to endure.
The only good thing about having seen To Rome With Love is that, if the theory holds true, Allen’s next film should be a really good one.
The R-rated To Rome With Love is now showing at the Esquire Theatre and AMC Newport on the Levee.