Woody Allen had a fabulous hit in 2011 with Midnight in Paris and I have no doubt the official 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival selection, To Rome With Love, will garner similar attention due to his success last year. While I do like the overall script by writer/director Allen with multiple stories, I cannot help but mention there are a couple of times his use of Alec Baldwin’s character in the scenes with Jesse Eisenberg, seemingly coming out of nowhere, did annoy more than enhance the story line at that time. It is not Baldwin’s acting, just the timing for the use of the character that is reliving some of his youth decades prior.
This time, writer/director Woody Allen has changed the setting from Paris to Rome, as he tells the story of a large cast of characters, American (including himself) and Italian, while living in or visiting in Rome. The sets are beautiful, as well as many of the Italian people with either everyday or celebrity status. It is almost impossible not to get caught up in the scenery of Rome or Lazio where this is filmed.
To Rome With Love has residents and visitors finding romance, going on adventures and find themselves in predicaments they did not expect. The comedy may not make the viewer laugh out loud, but it certainly is entertaining to view the challenges of love at different stages in people’s lives.
Two different stories of characters in the film stood out for me among the varied ones Woody Allen created.
I found the most comedic to be the young Italian newlywed couple, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) who arrive from the provinces for their honeymoon. Through comic misunderstanding for one and chance for the other, the couple is separated for the day. Antonio is sent a visitor to his room, Anna (Penélope Cruz) who due to unexpected circumstances poses as his wife, while Milly is romanced by legendary movie star Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese). The performances by this international cast are superb!
The second entertaining story is that of young Americans living in Rome. Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) and his live in girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) are doing well, until Sally’s actress friend, Monica (Ellen Page), comes to visit. Jack by chance meets the well-known architect John (Alec Baldwin) who is vacationing in Rome. The older, experienced mentor tries to help Jack to keep from falling head-over-heels for Monica, in order to avoid a romantically painful episode similar to one in his own life. I enjoyed viewing Eisenberg and Page cast together as friends progressing to lovers and their respective talent on screen worked well together. Two of my favorites!
Leave it to Woody Allen to cast himself as Jerry, a retired American opera director, who endeavors to put a reluctant “singing in the shower” mortician on stage, Giancarlo (renowned tenor Fabio Armiliato) despite being told no in many ways.
The music in the film is beautiful and is an added reason not to miss it.
The Regal Arbor Theater, Violet Crown Cinema, Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane 8, Cinemark Tinseltown 20 (Pflugerville) host the Austin release of To Rome With Love starting July 6th. It makes for a great time to enjoy a good romance comedy, Woody Allen style.