To Rome With Love
- Director:Woody Allen
- Cast:Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page
- Release Date:October 18, 2012
- Running time:112 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.50
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The laughs feel familiar, the characters feel like caricatures and Woody Allen seems to be on autopilot.
Since leaving New York in 2005, Woody Allen has been collecting Euro-stamps like a Contiki tourist on a five-countries highlight package. This time, it’s Italy, and the theme, not surprisingly, is love. We’re welcomed by a thoughtful traffic officer who introduces the cast, their quandaries, and their quirks. There’s an American tourist whose Roman romance leads her father (Woody Allen) to a shower-singing opera star in the making. There’s a crisis of mistaken identity when a hooker (Penelope Cruz) steps in for a missing wife. Roberto Benigni becomes an unlikely media star, while Alec Baldwin gives advice to love-struck Jesse Eisenberg.
These artlessly unconnected stories propose rumination about the burning question of love, as Allen trots out a familiar assortment of ticks and tropes, characters and caricatures: his trademark anxiety is found in three – count ‘em, three – performances, and looks uncomfortably like self-parody. Most threads have their moments. Cruz’ hooker is a delight, as is Benigni’s farcical elevation to cultural phenomenon at the hands of an insatiable media. Allen’s determination to release the inner-opera is clever but slight, while Eisenberg’s scenes are neither of these things, although, paradoxically, the only one offering any kind of insight.
Although To Rome With Love offers a good number of laughs, it lacks the clarity or assurance of Midnight In Paris (itself a thin conceit, let’s not forget). It’s as if Allen didn’t really know what to do with his rabble of Romans once he got them. Certainly no time was spent fleshing out ideas that could have brought greater depth to the vignettes. Perhaps Woody was too busy working up next year’s project. Whatever the reason, To Rome With Love fails its early promise as it quickly reduces to an amiable but superficial distraction.