To Rome with Love is one of those films which smacks of Woody Allen but is not up there with his comparatively better body of work. Yes, Midnight in Paris was better. Allen has been consistently making films for the last four decades and of course, not all of them can be as good as his best. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from watching the film; it is beautiful in the way it’s written.
The story is told through four unrelated vignettes set in Rome. Woody Allen portrays the role of a retired opera director who is in Rome with his wife (Judy Davis) to meet their daughter’s (Alison Pill) Italian fiancé (Flavio Parenti). The fiancé’s undertaker father (Fabio Armiliato) has a beautiful voice but can sing only in the shower. Then, there’s the working class clerk (Roberto Benigni) becomes famous for no apparent reason. There is the vacationing architect (Alec Baldwin) who meets a younger version of himself (Jesse Eisenberg) and advises him about life. Along finally, there is the super hot Penelope Cruz, an escort trying to act as the wife of a newly-wed groom (Alessandro Tiberi) to fool his eager conservative family when his real wife goes missing. In short, these were some of the best performances I’ve watched.
Cultural conflict is one of the yokes Allen uses effectively in guiding this film besides topping with his social and political bearings. There is a lot of subtext throughout the film but the beauty is in discovering it. The film features some of the sharpest and most well-written lines I’ve come across. That is a typical Allen characteristic. As with most Allen movies, the background score plays a huge role in setting the mood and in this case it’s repetitive but effective. The only common link between all of the characters in the film is the city of Rome. Cinematographer Darius Khondji captures the enigmatic and everlasting beauty of Rome very well while avoiding the over-abused clichéd locations of the city. All in all, Rome, some good acting, smart lines and Mr.Woody Allen is what the film is essentially made of. That itself should be reason enough to watch it. I recommend.