To Rome with Love is a fairly standard Woody Allen romantic comedy, and Allen is back to getting standard mediocre reviews, suggesting that Midnight in Paris was a one-off return to greatness.
Besides writing and directing, Allen also stars in To Rome with Love and shows he is still more than capable of performing in his films if given an appropriate role. In this case, he is an eccentric retired theatre producer who comes to Rome with his wife because their daughter fell in love with a local while visiting Rome and now wants to marry him. The future son-in-law is politically on the left and doesn’t like the way his future father-in-law wants to exploit his father’s singing ability (the father can only sing in the shower). It all gets rather silly from there.
Meanwhile, in another part of Rome, we have a young bride about to meet her in-laws for the first time. But she gets lost looking for a hairdresser and a prostitute mistakenly finds herself in bed with the groom (clothed) just as his parents barge in and, well, it all gets rather silly from there.
Meanwhile, in another part of Rome, yet another young couple is facing trouble as the woman’s sexy best friend is coming to stay following a break-up. Alec Baldwin plays the voice of conscience/reason for all three and warns against this course of action. He is convinced the young man will leave his girlfriend and chase the best friend. And it all gets rather silly from there.
Meanwhile, in another part of Rome, an average middle-class, middle-aged man suddenly finds himself famous and surrounded by paparazzi. And it all gets rather silly from there.
None of these four stories is connected with any of the others. And while we bounce from one story to another throughout the film, the stories do not even exist in the same timeframe. One of these stories takes place in a matter of hours, two take place in a matter of days, and the fourth seems to require months. In fact, To Rome with Love is just as surreal as Midnight in Paris, but without the ‘magic’. Instead, we have an altogether senseless silly diversion full of uneven acting and writing.
I loved it.
“Excuse me?” you ask, “Did you just misplace a sentence? Something feels a little inconsistent.”
What can I say? I’ve mentioned here before that even Allen’s mediocre efforts are better than most of the comedy dramas out there. It might be escapist nonsense, but I can escape much more easily in an Allen film than in an action-fest like The Avengers. And To Rome with Love has a number of positive attributes I have so far neglected to mention.
First, To Rome with Love is gorgeous! The cinematography is so good that it made me regret not having visited Rome since I was nineteen. While the writing may be uneven, there are plenty of funny and intelligent lines and the underlying theme (satirizing fame and celebrity) generally worked for me. And while the acting may be uneven (there are too many actors involved to name them fro you in this review), I enjoyed watching the great ensemble cast have fun with the zaniness. In other words, I thoroughly enjoyed this flawed mess and cannot give it less than a solid ***. My mug is up.