To Rome with Love is a clean, sweet and light movie. Thanks Woody. If perhaps not as well orchestrated as Midnight in Paris, his last work is a little gem –and not his masterpiece.
Says The New York Times’ A. O. Scott in When in New York, Still an Anxious New York Intellectual:
One of the most delightful things about “To Rome With Love” is how casually it blends the plausible and the surreal, and how unabashedly it revels in pure silliness. The plots, which are cut together in no special order, obey different time schemes: Antonio and Milly’s marital drama (which involves a prostitute played by Penélope Cruz, and a movie star played by Antonio Albanese) seems to occupy a single afternoon, while other strands stretch over weeks and months.
And I agree. The lightness and delight with which Woody dissects a few human personalities and makes fun of them is palpable. He is a master at knowing man and woman, neurotic or not. His wisdom is again a metaphor of lightness and “live and let live”: Both man and woman in the American couple struggle with light affairs, but in the end they return together. Alec Baldwin’s role of a counselor (so similar to Humphrey Bogart’s phantom in Play it Again, Sam) is also genius work in revealing the neurotic, egotist features of the beauty seducer, portrayed by the fabulous Ellen Page. And what about the wonderful metaphor of the surreal opera singer under the shower? Don’t we all sing wonderfully in the shower -as Woody himself puts it? Yet, when the Pagliacci is finally staged, the tenor-under-the-shower sings: “La commedia è finita!” –literally, The comedy is over!! What comedy? Life’s? The movie’s? Is it really over, Woody?
The Rome of the movie is just a metaphor for Italy –or better, for what Allen thinks of Italy. Unjust were the words of Roman actor Carlo Verdone (a frustrated film director), who lamented that the film’s Rome is not the “true city”. Of course not.
The film is nice, goes smoothly, and delightfully light. Yet, something is not working fully. Something was left perhaps unpolished, or unfinished. There is not Woody’s most brilliant exploration of human personalities –only a touch, nice, but still only a touch of them, through a gamma of characters all in love, one way or the other, with their own image of Rome.