Romance! Adventure! Hilarity! Italy! Woody Allen leads this all-star cast on a rollicking ride through the streets of one of the world's greatest cities. Lovers and fiancees, opera singers and architects, the talented and the famous, and the youthful and the wise are all players within this ensemble tour-de-force, as their stories and lives magically criss-cross and collide throughout this engaging film.
An episodic comedy-romance by prolific film maker Woody Allen who enters here into his sixth decade of film making, To Rome with Love follows four couples in Rome who struggle with themes of fidelity and fame. As usual, Allen’s cast is star studded and talent topped but the episodic nature of the movie leaves each of them with slightly underfed storylines and poorly fleshed out characters.
Unfortunately however after a little reflection it becomes quite apparent that few of these storylines is strong enough to stand solo for an entire movie.
The first story stars Allen himself as a retired Opera director who, after meeting the family of his would-be son-in-law, Michelangelo, Michelangelo’s father, Giancarlo singing in the shower and discovers that he has a fantastic operatic voice. Allen’s character, Jerry, convinces Giancarlo to go to an opera audition, only to see him fail terribly. It is then that he contrives to produce an opera that allows Giancarlo to spend the entire time in the shower; the only place he is able to sing to the full extent of his operatic talents.
This plot alone was quaint and reasonably entertaining, although I couldn’t help but feel reminded of some kind of teenagers T.V afternoon special.
The other three storylines are made of typical Allen fodder, awkward couple related situations – including an incident in which a prostitute is mistaken for the new wife of Italian country boy Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi), the temptations of infidelity and the strange and sudden rise to fame of an ordinary office clerk.
There are some nice ideas involved in all of these stories, some great moments of true Allen comic genius and in many ways being filmed in this fashion suit these slightly frail stories well. One can’t help but feel however that rather than an idea for a movie what Allen has in fact done is pull together four incomplete ideas that have been festering in the back of his mind for ten years; they lack the real substance that Allen movies have always been founded on and I feel it is a genuine shame that there isn’t more to any of them.
I was also particularly struck by how American the movie’s view of Italy is; it is filled with picture-postcard type shots of famous Roman monuments and tourist destinations, yet one feels that if this were meant to be a story of inhabitants of the city itself we would have been graced with a far more diverse, and in my opinion beautiful, image of the city. The lack of poetic imagery in the movie really only adds to the overall feeling of not-quite-right-ness that hangs about To Rome With Love. Ultimately it is an, albeit it well put together and reasonably entertaining, mish mash of incomplete ideas and inadequate characters.