Last year, Woody Allen made the exquisite Midnight in Paris. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Allen’s work, some I like more than others. But Midnight in Paris was unexpectedly wonderful, and I was almost hoping to say the same for his latest movie, To Rome with Love. But then I watched the trailer, and my expectations slightly waned. The trailer just didn’t grab me, at least not in the way I had hoped it would. With my newly-lowered expectations, I went to see To Rome with Love and quite enjoyed it.
To Rome with Love follows several characters and storylines as they all happen in the eternal city. The film begins when an American girl, Hayley (Alison Pill) meets an Italian guy named Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). They fall in love, and Hayley invites her parents (played by Judy Davis and Woody Allen) to meet Michelangelo and his family. Meanwhile, Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a young American architect, meets his girlfriend’s (Greta Gerwig) friend, Monica (Ellen Page), who’s this “sexually-alluring” actress. Jack is being schooled on his decisions by John (Alec Baldwin), who seems to be an older version of Jack. In another storyline, young Italian newlyweds, Antonio and Milly, arrive in Rome to meet with and impress Antonio’s very conservative family. Before meeting them, Milly leaves to get a haircut and gets lost in the city, thus beginning her own little adventure. While, a prostitute named Anna (Penelope Cruz) is mistakenly sent to Antonio’s room, and due to unfortunate timing, Anna must pretend to be Antonio’s wife. All the while, an Italian man (Roberto Benigni) becomes famous overnight for no apparent reason at all.
Usually I love movies with intersecting story lines. It’s cool to see them find their way to each other and connect. But with this film, I felt it could’ve been done better. In fact, many of the storylines didn’t actually connect or intersect with each other; rather we just watch all these different characters living their lives in the same city. Normally, I would also be okay with that. However, some plot lines didn’t interest me as much as others did. For example, I very much enjoyed Woody Allen’s characters story. It was very funny, and of course, Allen knows how to deliver his dialogue very well. Yet, I had some problems with Jesse Eisenberg’s characters story. It got a tad boring at times, and as much as I adore Ellen Page, she didn’t have the right pizazz to play a character like Monica. But what made that particular plotline really work was the addition to the “all-knowing” John (Baldwin’s character), who gives his funny input on almost everything Jack and Monica do. Also, I wished that we had more of Penelope Cruz in the movie. She had some good moments, but I think she was seriously underused. I mean, a prostitute hanging out with an uptight, conservative Italian family? There has to be more jokes there.
Of course, expect To Rome with Love to have the classic Woody Allen witty dialogue. It’s truly the saving grace of the film; it made it funny, entertaining and gave it a couple clever moments. That’s really only one of the two reasons why I would recommend this film to others. The other reason is so I can ask others what was the point with Roberto Benigni’s character in the film. I understand that the media randomly decided to make his famous for a moment. But why was it part of the story? To showcase how the Italian media is like? I feel a little dumb for not “getting” it, but hey, if someone can explain it to me, thanks!
Rating: 6/10 ★★★★★★
To Rome with Love is now playing in select theaters.