In his fourth ode to great European cities, Woody Allen sets four disparate stories with no connection to each other. To Rome with Love is a breezy watch that is difficult not to like, yet equally difficult to gush over nonstop.
There is a newlywed couple gets separated in Rome and end up cheating on each other. A retired opera director, played by Woody himself, discovers a singer in his daughters father in law and tries to give him a career in showbiz. A young architect (Jesse Eisenberg) falls for his girlfriends neurotic friend while being cautioned by his own future self (Alec Baldwin) only to end up heartbroken. And finally, a common middle class man (Roberto Benigni) discovers the pitfalls of sudden unexplained fame and its transitory nature.
As these stories run along in the beautiful city of Rome a common thread runs through each of them- every character is put in a situation outside his or her comfort zone. So the newlywed couple, comfortable in their small town existence find adultery in big city Rome enticing, the architect, secure in his relationship gives in to the temptation of a sexy seductress Ellen Page.
The simple average everyday man Roberto is put in the spotlight with every single detail of his mundane life making headlines nonstop and just as he begins to get used to this new found fame everything is snatched away. The Retired opera director is out of his comfortable working status and is looking for a chance to get out of retirement, which he equates to death. While his muse, the undertaker shower singer is excited by the prospect of fame only to be content with his normal life later.
The tenor of the film is decidedly breezy and romantic. Rome is shown in all its ruinous splendor with picture postcard imagery as the characters negotiate life with a subtle sense of irony and wit. The camera makes sweet love to Romes streets and alleys giving one a tourist brochure kind of a feel. It is difficult not to give into the film and get along with the people on screen. This however is where the trouble begins too.
For the film doesnt have much to engage once the basic premise of each story is established. Yes, they are simple people in funny situations, yet there is no real insight into life, either theirs or in general. The film doesnt go beyond picture perfect frames and beautiful people. One wished the director chose to slice through the lives and stories with a more analytical bent of mind.
To Rome with Love is not Allens best work, it is definitely not as involving and maverick as last years Midnight in Paris. Nonetheless it is a delightful watch that would leave you dreaming about a trip to Rome if nothing else.