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Woody Allen's Euro Crisis

  • Ankur Pathak

    Ankur Pathak (50 DM Points)

    Desimartini | Updated - March 17, 2013 4:58 PM IST
    2.9DM (192 ratings)

    Verdict - Wow Woody is reduced to Wooden Woody, but Woody with Love nonetheless.

    To Rome with LoveWatch trailerRelease date : September 07, 2012

    After reveling in the exotica of European capitals such as London for Match Point, Barcelona with Vicky and Cristina and his irresistibly heartfelt letter to Paris, Woody Allen finally faces the looming Euro crisis in the Eternal City of Rome.

    So there is the gorgeous muse alright. And just like Paris was seductively wrapped with golden hues covering the delicate montages, Rome gets similarly pampered too. But the problem lies in the city being reduced to a dreamlike backdrop failing to become a character in itself.

    The film consists of four seemingly disconnected stories that are united by a largely misogynistic notion of adultery. Every character steps out of his ostensibly comfortable life for a little adventure on the outside and is left eventually disappointed after a momentary escape from the monotonous reality.

    Alec Baldwin is a successful architect visiting Rome where he once lived. Jesses Eisenberg is an aspiring architect living in the city with his girlfriend (Greta Grewick) and models himself on Alec (But you sold out to the shopping malls). When Ellen Pages seductress Monica visits Greta Grewick, it immediately leads her to insecure ideas about her boyfriend inescapably falling for the charming Monica. (As much as I adore Page, she is a serious misfit here)

    Baldwin here is seen out of his will where he consistently shares unsolicited advice. Its Woodys most favorite tool of magical realism where a character talks to the fourth wall or has unexplainable presence (Annie Hall, Purple Rose of Cairo, Whatever Works) sometimes only Eisenberg can see his reasoning, but Page occasionally jumps into the conversation to defend her insistent character assassination.

    In other pictures, a clerk rises to unexpected fame where the local paparazzi hound him as if hes the living avatar of Jesus Christ. Allen tries to pass a commentary on the celebrity culture a creation of the out-of-ideas media and the trappings the trajectory commonly follows.

    Roberto Benigini plays the common man of the middle class whose life sees an upward swing but it only leads to his becoming more annoyed and agitated. But similar is the case when the momentary fame eludes him leading to delusionary crisis. The point here is that life is similar on both ends of the spectrum, but, like the guy who played chauffeur to Benigini during his starry days reminds us, Being a celebrity is still a better life.

    Then there is Woody Allen himself playing himself the neurotic father of Hayley who has fallen in love with a Roman lawyer whose father happens to be an undertaker who sings beautiful opera but only in the shower (The Flinstones ?)

    Which brings us to the hottest aspect of all of Europe Penelope Cruz, playing a sultry prostitute who, in a case of mistaken identity, ends up in the hotel room of an innocent small-town Italian about to inherit a dynastical big job. As is the case with most of his movies, each character begins to mouth observations through overly worded dialogues that sound as if Woody is saying them. His one-liners seem exhaustively used and the lack of novelty doesnt inspire many chuckles but a few which are far in-between. Out of all the four stories, the common theme that binds them is the characters attempting to do something that they are pretty unsure of. But they still go ahead with it, eventually landing at square one. Much like the escapades of Vicky and Crisitna with Juan Antonio.

    The funniest lines come from Woody himself who is predictably neurotic and so imagine him facing an undertaker. What is slightly different here with Woodys character is that the character has retired but is equating retirement with death. So when he insists his son-in-laws father to give opera a shot (they bring a make-shift shower on to the stage), he is basically tying to reignite his own passion as the manager for a record-label company, thus escaping the blandness of retirement.

    All these stories unfold without a strong narrative connect and at times, the film feels longer despite its running time of 112 minutes. Rome remains a mere touristy surrounding without actually having an influential part. To make the viewers realize we are still in Rome and to reinforce its greatness, characters walk by the postcard-perfect Piazzas and stare dreamily at the coliseum saying lines like, This city is unbelievable.

    So in the context of picture-tourism, Midnight in Paris remains Woody Allens most honest and sincere film. It is not only because it is literally a fairy tale but is laced with profound and intellectual wit and speaks of characters that inhabited the City of Lights not for reasons touristy but much more philosophical and solicitous.

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