To Rome with Love (2012)

To Rome with Love (2012) – Okay so let me just start this out by putting Woody Allen’s career into context. He has released at least one movie every year since 1982 (sometimes two a year). Sometimes they good or okay, sometimes they are great. Very rarely are they awful (though let us not mince words, Hollywood Ending was awful). It’s really kind of an astounding track record. Lately, of course, Woody’s been on a creative rejuvenation leaving his native New York City behind and traipsing around Europe. That’s yielded some great films like Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Midnight in Paris (and one pretty decent one in Cassandra’s Dream). After making films in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France, Woody has now moved on to Italy (obviously) with his new film To Rome with Love. It’s an ensemble flick telling several different stories. It also includes the touches of surrealism that marked many of Allen’s older films.

American Hayley (Alison Pill) meets charming Italian Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) and after a whirlwind romance, they get engaged. Her parents, Jerry and Phyllis (Woody himself and Judy Davis), come out to meet her fiancé. When Jerry meet Michelangelo’s father Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato), he thinks he may have made a discovery that could resuscitate his career. In another story John (Alec Baldwin), a visited architect who lived in Rome in his youth, meets Jack (Jessie Eisenberg), an ASPIRING architect living in Rime who reminds John of himself as a younger man. Jack is in a relationship with Sally (Greta Gerwig), but is becoming distractedly infatuated with Sally’s visiting actress friend Monica (Ellen Page). John sits back and (seemingly omnisciently) comments on the situation. In the third and most surreal story of the bunch, an ordinary man (Roberto Benigni) finds himself suddenly famous for no reason whatsoever with all the privileges and paparazzi that comes with. In the final story, a newlywed couple, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi), get separated while in Rome to meet with some of Antonio’s relatives about a business deal. Milly gets lost in the city and winds up cavorting with movie stars. Antonio is forced to deal with a high end prostitute (Penélope Cruz) sent to his room by mistake… when his family arrives early.

To Rome with Love is simply delightful. “Delightful’ is absolutely the first word to spring to mind. I wouldn’t put it as one of Allen’s truly great films, but it thoroughly entertaining and charming from beginning to end and is one of the best films I have seen thus far in 2012. Woody’s return to acting (it’s his first role since Scoop in 2006) is welcome. He’s playing the same type of character he always does but the reason he always does it is because he does it damn well. Also Jessie Eisenberg is someone you could see lapsing into Woody-esque mannerisms, but Eisenberg never lets his own brand of neurosis become derivative. Baldwin’s nostalgic wistful commentator is one of his better film roles in recent memory. I applaud this movie for letting Ellen Page be sexy. She’s an attractive woman and she doesn’t seem to get to play SEXY very often. Speaking of sexy, Penélope Cruz… that’s all need be said. I also am quite taken with Alessandra Mastronardi and would like to see more of her. Time to brush up on some recent Italian cinema I guess. To Rome with Love is an enchanting little movie and one of my favorites in theaters right now. Go see it.

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