Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
TO ROME WITH LOVE
Directed by: Woody Allen
Running time: 112 min.
Release date: June 22, 2012
Genre: Comedy and Romance in English and Italian with English Subtitles
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
MPAA Rating: R
Director/writer Woody Allen adds his name, after a six year absence, to the credits as actor in this kaleidoscope movie set in one of the world's most enchanting cities, Rome, Italy. The concept of the story is about a number of people in Italy - some Italian, some residents, some visitors - and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into. The characters of these light-hearted comedic plots are played by a fantastic talented international cast.
The film brings us into contact with a well-known American architect reliving his youth; an average middle-class Roman who suddenly finds himself Rome's biggest celebrity; a young provincial couple drawn into separate romantic encounters; and an American opera director endeavoring to put a singing mortician on stage.
In the opening scenario, well-known architect John (multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Winner Alec Baldwin) is vacationing in Rome, where he once lived in his youth. The film mostly looks through the eyes and mind of John as he walks into his former neighborhood. John encounters Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), an American born young man not unlike himself. As he watches Jack fall head-of-heels for Monica (Ellen Page), his girlfriend Sally's (Greta Gerwig) dazzling and extremely flirtatious good friend and actress, John relives one of the most romantically painful episodes of his life.
I was highly impressed with Ellen Page's range in her performance as the free spirited sexpot, Monica. In a press conference I asked her if she finds these different roles she plays in various films challenging and if this something she thrives for (diversity) in her career? She replied, "....going into a role that's unknown is challenging. I was scared (in this film) but to accomplish it (the role) and pull it off is a wonderful thing. I look forward to challenging myself."
As the film progresses, and at the same moment as John is visiting his old neighborhood, retired opera director Jerry (multiple Academy Award Winner Woody Allen) nervously flies to Rome with his wife Phyllis played by Judy Davis. This marks Judy Davis' fifth collaboration with Woody Allen which has garnered her several Oscar nominations. Jerry and Phyllis are meeting their daughter Hayley's (Alison Pill, in her second Woody Allen film) Italian fiancee', Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti, of French and Italian cinema). Jerry is amazed to hear Michelangelo's undertaker father, Giancarlo (renowned tenor Fabio Armiliato) singing aria worthy of La Scala, while taking a shower. Jerry clutches at the opportunity to promote Giancarlo and rejuvenate his own career.
Questions were raise to Woody Allen concerning his creative process, why he chooses to shoot his films abroad rather than the U.S., and why his return to acting? His witty and often funny reply to these questions were, "(creative process)...during the year I write things down on scraps of paper and I throw them in the drawer. At the end of the year I pull these things out and go from there." He also spoke about his choice of filming abroad by saying, "I shoot abroad because that's where I can raise money to make pictures." And his comment on acting after such a long absence was, "... I always like to act if there is a part I could do and like. I will play it! I was fortunate to see a part in my script I could play."
Another and equally funny skit in this plot is about happily married with children Leopoldo Pisanello (actor, comedian, screenwriter and director of film theater and television Roberto Benigni) who is exceptionally boring guy, He wakes up one morning and finds himself one of the most famous men of Italy with many unanswered questions about how this came about and why? Paparazzi trail his every move and questions his every motivation (such as, what he ate for breakfast, etc,). As Leopoldo grows accustomed to the varied seductions of the limelight, he finds out that there is a price to pay for this fame.
Meanwhile, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) has arrived from the rural provinces in Rome hoping to impress his straightlaced relatives with his new wife Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) so that he can get an upscale big city job. By a misunderstanding in hotel numbers, Antonio finds himself caught with a outspoken prostitute named Anna (Academy Award- Winner Penelope Cruz) who he must pass off as his wife to the straight-lacers, whie his real wife Milly gets lost in Rome and finds herself being romanced by a legendary Italian movie star Luca Salta (Antio Albanese).
With the beautiful backdrop of Rome as another character in this film, the impressions of the comic situations is skillfully exposed to the audience. The characters deliver quick and snappy dialogue only Woody Allen could orchestrate. He takes the simplest way of looking at situations, finds the comedy in it and allows it to surprise, startle, shock, and delight the audience as it goes beyond the ordinary, the dull and the familiar. The whole impetus of the romantic comedy is to create a distance, a perspective on the world- a world that is no longer pedestrian, but comic. Each episodic skit includes good comedy while it disturbs, disrupts, alters and changes things from what is expected.
To Rome With Love is a hilarious film that pushes the barriers of behavior and goes beyond the audience's anticipation of what someone is going to say or do!
FILM RATING (A-)