To Rome with Love
Plot: Residents and tourists in Rome have various mini-adventures.
I always mean to catch up on all these newer Woody Allen things and then never do. There's something about a movie like this by a director like this where it just seems like he exhales and these movies come out. There's nothing particularly revolutionary about anything that's going on here, but the movie has a certain charm that is easy to get lost in. I like when Woody Allen throws in some magical realism into his storylines, and you get that with a pair of these stories.
The four storylines weave in and out of each other; otherwise, this is an anthologized romantic comedy. I might have predicted that I'd like some more than the others, but I never really got disappointed when things would shift to any of them. Things only ever get mildly amusing, but as I said, there's something kind of refreshing about the way these stories kind of float along. And each story comes with just the right sprinkling of curmudgeonly pessimism which gives the proceedings a cutesy edge that I also liked.
The Baldwin/Eisenberg is nearly derailed because they're playing the same character and Baldwin is acting just like Alec Baldwin usually acts and Eisenberg is acting just like Jesse Eisenberg usually acts. And that's really nothing like each other. I like what the story has to say about how we're sort of doomed to make the choices we make. Even when conventional wisdom--or Alec Baldwin--is trying to warn us, we're still doomed. Of course, Ellen Page just might be cute enough to make those sorts of mistakes.
The characters I cared the least about were two newlyweds, a farcical affair of affairs that seemed at home in Italy. Or maybe it was more French, definitely European though. The story had twists and turns that weren't really helped by the fractured way it was mixed in with the other three, but I don't think I would have wanted to spend an hour and a half with these characters.
It was good to see Roberto Benigni again. I'm not sure if I've ever seen him in anything Italian except for that version of Pinocchio that he nearly ruined his career with. He's subdued here in a fun little one-joke story about a completely mundane guy who suddenly has the paparazzi following him around like he's some sort of celebrity. It was a little like a more-comic Kafka in a way.
Finally, the story that Woody Allen himself appears in. Now Woody Allen really was never really an actor, but what he does here might be the worst acting he's done. His character tries to cajole the father of his daughter's fiance into venturing into a career as an opera singer after hearing him in the shower. The result is like the punchline of a joke, but it's an almost-funny one and the visual of it might make this the most memorable of the four vignettes.
These humorous little snippets might seem a little half-baked, but I think they almost work better because of that. They're four moments in time that don't have a lot to say about Rome or live or even love, but they're breezy and kind of fun and worth watching if you like Woody Allen's stuff.