Monday, 8 October 2012

Film Review: To Rome With Love (2012)

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin and Greta Gerwig

After scoring his biggest box office hit ever and winning a screenwriting Oscar with last year’s outstanding Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen’s follow up effort is the polar opposite. In fact, it’s easily his worst film for a decade.

The problem with the film lies in the story and in the writing, and that is an issue which Allen is seldom guilty of but in To Rome With Love he shows none of the wit and dialogue which sets him apart from every other writer in Hollywood. The characters, situations, and themes have all been explored before in similar works by the director but to infinitely greater degrees of success and the jokes are tired and rarely funny. The major problem is having Woody Allen’s trademark comedic dialogue delivered in Italian and subtitled on screen for half of the time; it simply does not translate and needs to be delivered in English.

The film tells four stories set in Rome which have absolutely no connection: an architect who takes a trip back to the street he lived on as a student, a young couple on their honeymoon who get separated, an opera director who has a talent for giving his productions a unique and unconventional twist, and an average working man who wakes up to find himself, inexplicably, a celebrity. The first three of these are almost without merit but the story about the man who wakes up a celebrity would have made for a good idea for a film on its own, especially with Allen a writer.

The film is set in Rome seemingly for no other reason than to continue Allen’s European tour which started in London, moved on to Barcelona, and then Paris. The film serves no purpose other than to keep Allen’s film-per-year ratio up and looks and feels like a collection of short stories he had written long ago, none of which had the depth for a feature film of its own so were blended together and released as this utter mess. It’s a huge letdown from one of American cinema’s few remaining legends.

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