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Movies.ie Critic Review
TO ROME WITH LOVE (USA/Italy/Spain/12A/112mins)
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Greta Gerwig, Flavio Parenti, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi, Antonio Albanese.
THE PLOT: Rome is, we’re told by a traffic cop in the opening scene, a city of many stories, and we’re soon launching into four that each, in their own way, concern matters of the heart. Former opera director Jerry (Allen) and his wife Phyllis (Davis) are heading to Rome because their daughter, Hayley (Pill), has fallen in love with political firebrand Michaelangelo (Parenti), the latter the proud son of a father who sings like Pavarotti whilst in the shower. Young architect student Jack (Eisenberg) quickly falls in love with the flirtatious, poetry-quoting Monica (Page), despite all the warnings from her old friend – and his live-in girlfriend – Sally (Gerwig). Even the voice of experience from holidaying architect celebrity John (Baldwin) can’t save Jack from the inevitable embrace. In another part of town, newly-weds Antonio (Tiberi) and Milly (Mastronardi) are wide-eyed about their possible new life in the city – so much so, Milly gets lost and ends up in the arms of ageing matinee idol Luca Salta (Albanese) whilst through a little mistaken identity, Antonio has to pretend to his stuffy relatives that happy hooker Anna (Cruz) is actually his new wife. And in yet another part of town, office schmuck Leopoldo (Benigni) suddenly finds himself being chased by pararazzi and hounded by the media, all keen to know the mundane everyday details of his life. He’s soon a celebrity, with all the fine tables and free women that involves…
THE VERDICT: The above plotlines should sound familiar to any Woody Allen fan, being largely a cut’n’paste of tried and tested material from previous outings. Possibly still reeling from the shock of scoring the biggest box-office success of his long and often illustrious career (last year’s Midnight In Paris), Woody wraps up his European vacation by once again revisiting old themes and familiar obsessions here – aided and abetted by yet another working-for-scale hotchpotch cast of young guns and old dogs. Including, for the first time since 2006’s Scoop, Mr. Allen Konigsberg himself, Woody highly convincing as grumpy and mildly-bewildered old man. Everyone here is clearly up for the Woody Allen experience though – namely, some arch Carry On in yet another stunning cultural hotspot. Hey, if it ain’t quite broke, don’t fix it.
The gags are as much miss as hit this time round, as Allen continues his giddy blend of Bergman and Benny Hill, the skewering of pseudo-intellectualism rubbing up against some good old fashioned farce and surreal slapstick. There’s a handful of new neuroses from Allen – including the no doubt strongly-held belief that retirement equals death – but largely this is another sunny postcard full of forbidden fruits, new pains and old frustrations. Of course, even second-rate Woody Allen is better than most mainstream comedies being shat out of Hollywood these days, so, you know, go see it. You’ll feel that little bit wiser afterwards. Or, at the very least, a little bit more wiseass. RATING: 3/5
Review by Paul Byrne