Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Alison Pill, Ellen Page, Monica Nappo and Judy Davis. Written by Woody Allen. Directed by Woody Allen. Produced by Letty Aaronson, Francesco Marras and Stephen Tenenbaum.
Woody Allen has yet to put his name on anything that resembles a flop. And while To Rome With Love doesn't quite live up to its successful predecessor Midnight in Paris, it strikes a familiar chord in terms of humor and mood, concentrating on love in an enchanting European city. Told through a kaleidoscope of similar plots, the audience is guided through a commentary on relationships, love and celebrity. And if it weren't for its clever premise, snappy dialogue and charming performances, the film's monotony would've simply been too much to bear.
Told from the point of view of a police officer, the story revolves around four unrelated couples and their experience in this unfamiliar city- A young architect, Jesse (Eisenberg) fights the temptation to fall for Monica (Page), the best friend of his live-in girlfriend (Gerwig); an American tourist, Hayley (Pill) falls in love and becomes engaged to a native Italian, Michelangelo (Parenti) and the two struggle to make their parents get along; A young Italian couple, Milly (Mastronardi) and Antonio (Tiberi) travel to Rome for work and find themselves involved in extramarital affairs; Humble journalist, Leopaldo (Benigni) and his wife, Sofia (Nappo) must adjust to their new life in the spotlight after his overnight celebrity. Isolated, each of these stories is emotionally complex and reveals some truth behind the dynamic of relationships and the myth of celebrity. When tied together, however, the plot becomes a jumbled maze of seemingly pointless scenes and meanders for the beginning half of the movie.
To Rome With Love also struggles with the ability to fully develop these four completely unrelated stories within a one and a half to two hour time frame- just as you begin to invest yourself in one story, you're pulled away when the focus shifts to another, making it difficult to truly care about any of the characters or their relationships. So, while it's a cool concept, the kaleidoscope structure doesn't suit as much as it hinders Allen's brilliant storytelling ability and tendency to rely on quirky, relatable characters and their unique relationship dynamic.