Release Date: June 22, 2012 (Limited)
Director: Woody Allen
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
Woody Allen, a necessary building block to film culture, has created a name for himself since he started making movies back in the 60’s. The neurotic, frenzied, New York Jew act carried him from movie to movie throughout the 70’s and 80’s and a little bit in the 90’s. Anyone who has paid attention, or has read any current article about the Woody, knows that he is an integral part to film history but in his latter years he hasn’t made a film as strong as his earlier attempts. Granted, Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Midnight in Paris are great, but they are inferior to classics like Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, or Love and Death. To Rome with Love is another film that crawls from Allen’s imagination, another story picked randomly from his file cabinet of log lines (I’m pretty sure this actually exists), and a film that lacks the great Woody Allen nostalgia that isn’t strong enough to create a now lost Allen in 2012.
The film pulls together a huge range of talent, telling the story of 4 different story lines (4, right, I think). Michelangelo and Hayley (Flavio Parenti and Alison Pill) are a newly engaged couple who deal with Hayley’s parents, played by Judy Davis and Woody Allen; Jack and John (Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin respectfully) play two sides of the same person, both architects; Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni, in his second role since Life is Beautiful) deals with unwanted fame; and Antonio and Anna (Alessandro Tiberi and Penelope Cruz) get to know each other in more ways than one.
As you can tell by how that last paragraph is structured, there is a lot thrown in this movie. I think Allen had character ideas and didn’t want to make single movies for all of them (a la The Avengers…) but rather make an ensemble piece. These usually work better with a cast that has worked together before; think Wes Anderson with…well, almost everything after Bottle Rocket.
The problem with To Rome is that the things that are wrong with it are the things that could make it so much better. If these characters were fleshed out, I mean, really fleshed out, they could have been so much bigger, so much better. The chemistry that Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin had was eccentric and out-there and it would have been interesting to push that and see how far it could go. Maybe they could be in another movie together and we could see more of it.
Being a pretty big fan of the Woodster, I can’t say that I was too disappointed though with the movie. I feel like I could’ve seen it and still had more of a positive reaction to it than negative. I can only hope that in the near future he can hit something new and move upwards on a post-being-77-years-old path. Well, like I said, we can only hope.