To Rome with Love

Woody Allen’s comedic Italian romp is no ‘Midnight in Paris’

To Rome with Love

© GRAVIER PRODUCTIONS, by Philippe Antonello

Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg
Time Out rating:
Japanese title: Rome de Amore

After turning out his best film in years with Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s creative revival comes to a juddering halt with a foursome of would-be amusing vignettes that barely muster a laugh between them. Rome provides an excuse for Dean Martin’s ‘Volare’ on the soundtrack, as well as an opera-themed sketch (with Woody back in front of the camera playing a retired music-biz exec convinced he’s discovered the new Pavarotti), and the ever-resistible Roberto Benigni mugging away as an average Giuseppe turned into a celeb by the brainless local media. Mostly though, the Eternal City is there for unremarkable tourist-eye footage as background filler.

Almost everything here plays like an early draft a younger Allen would have sharpened up considerably. His own co-starring turn and the Benigni segment are one-joke affairs of thudding obviousness, while elsewhere a farcical misunderstanding between two shy, provincial Italian newlyweds lands Penélope Cruz with a toe-curler of a role as a brassy prostitute who takes a hands-on approach to the plot’s mounting confusion.

Somehow Allen has landed a stellar cast with an average script, and it’s the actors who make this just about tolerable. Jesse Eisenberg does a passable Woody Jr as an architectural student falling for flirtatious neurotic Ellen Page while disregarding the sage advice of Alec Baldwin, a suave scene-stealer as Eisenberg’s imaginary advisor. Yes, there’s the occasional smile to be had, but it’s a long way from Allen’s 1972 effort Play It Again, Sam. And when a relatively minor Allen film becomes the benchmark, you know you’re sliding down the quality scale.

To Rome with Love opens at select cinemas nationwide on June 8

By Tom Huddleston
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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