Hot off of last year’s Midnight in Paris, director Woody Allen ventures to Rome for his latest romantic comedy featuring a dozen of Hollywood’s best and brightest. To Rome With Love is another Allen film, with a variety of characters filling up a spotlight location, which happens to be Rome. Allen doesn’t stray away from the material, mostly keeping To Rome With Love grounded in the universe in which he frequents in. To Rome With Love is basically another Woody Allen flick, with much of the same problems that most of his films have. That being said, it’s still a Woody Allen film, which means you’ll find at least one thing to appreciate. It’s not Midnight in Paris, which is saddening, but almost expected.
To Rome with Love follows a string of stories, much like all of Woody Allen‘s recent films. We’ve got Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page and Alec Baldwin featured in one story that follows a young man and his girlfriend as a friend comes to town and stirs up some sticky emotions, all while a seasoned man stumbles upon his old stomping grounds.
Penélope Cruz plays a prostitute in another angle of the film, which centers on a man and his wife getting split up in the city, with the man running into the prostitute during an important business meeting and his wife getting lost in Rome, eventually running into a Hollywood star, a hotel thief and a few other interesting side characters.
There’s also a bit featuring Woody Allen himself, which is probably the funniest and most memorable part of the film, but not exactly the best in terms of acting. Allen does his best keeping the jokes casual and light, occasionally sticking something really funny out there.
Lastly, there’s Roberto Benigni‘s part, which is equally important, but not nearly as funny as you’d expect.
To Rome With Love is almost as vague as my plot descriptions, but luckily for the film Allen has a cast of very talented and very different actors to fill up the time. I’d like to go into the character details and side stories with more detail, but that’s where a big problem I had with the film comes into play. There’s just too much going on in the film at one time. Every story is given a beginning, middle and end, with character arcs and story progression, but everything feels glossed over or quickly cut to keep the running time brisk and the focus always changing.
Allen has knack for doing this in his films and this method of filmmaking usually works well for him, but with To Rome With Love it sort of makes the film step on its own feet. Nothing ever sticks around long enough to get overly interesting. I would have much rather had Allen focus on 2 of the stories instead of all 4, but that might just be my personal preference.
Some might find this storytelling method effective, while others will find it too distant. It all breaks down to how you like your Allen films. To Rome With Love is another one of those forgettable Woody Allen films that has its moments, but nothing more. There’s stuff that you’ll find really enjoyable, but there’s also a lot of stuff that won’t even faze you.
I find that to be the case for most of Allen’s current films. Midnight in Paris was something magical and different, allowing you to really soak up the city and interact with the characters and events in the film and it worked so well because of Allen’s focus on the characters. To Rome With Love suffers because it never focuses on a single person. It’s constantly shifting tones and trying to introduce more Allen elements, but by doing so it makes you lose out on all of the fun that could have come from simply getting stuck with one couple.
Disconnection is what bogs To Rome With Love down and it’s too bad, because I really thought Woody Allen was reviving his career with Midnight and Paris and moving towards something a little different than his past 5 films. I respect his style and mostly appreciate his current films, but they never slide past becoming typical rentals. To Rome With Love is no different than any of Allen’s other films, so it’s safe to say that if you’re a fan you’ll probably be pleased with his latest outing.
Everyone else will want to stay in and revisit Paris.
To Rome With Love – 6.5/10