To Rome with
(This is a short review as published
in the October 2012 issue of The NSW
Law Society Journal).
The closing night film of the Italian Film Festival (Palace Cinemas, 21
September - 10 October) is not strictly Italian. It’s Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, on general
release from 18 October. Set in the Eternal City, it features a large,
delightful cast of American and Italian actors, with dialogue in
English, and occasionally Italian with English subtitles.
Fans of Allen’s comedies will not be disappointed: there are plenty of
witty one-liners, piercing social observations and laugh-out-loud
moments. Allen plays Jerry, a retired record company executive
and opera producer. Judy Davis is Allen’s psychiatrist wife. Alec
Baldwin plays John, an architect revisiting Rome, where he lived as a
young man. He meets Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), and becomes involved in
Jack’s romantic life. Baldwin’s character is intriguing: he’s like a
Greek chorus, but one that interferes. Is he reliving his youth through
Allen’s love of European cinema is apparent: there are many references
to classic Italian cinema, especially the films of Bertolucci (with
plenty of sex and opera) and Fellini. The storyline involving a naive
young couple honeymooning in Rome is directly lifted from Fellini’s
film The White Sheik (1952).
So that’s extra fun for those in the know. To Rome With Love consists of
several stories that do not intersect, which is reminiscent of Italian
films of the 50s and 60s where different directors presented individual
stories within one “omnibus” film.
Allen also revisits issues and scenarios from his own films, including Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in
Paris, Stardust Memories, and particularly Celebrity, in a storyline featuring
Roberto Benigni as an ordinary Roman who suddenly and for no reason
becomes a celebrity, and in another story involving fabulous opera
tenor Fabio Armiliato.
To Rome With Love is not as
lovely a film as last year’s Midnight
in Paris, but it just might be funnier.