To Rome with Love (2012)

Roaming free

Another year, another Woody Allen film. I am aware that this may cause distress for some misguided souls, but not me – like waiting in line to see the latest James Bond flick, there is always a rare expectancy about every Woody pic – such is the prolific frequency of the director’s work, it’s rather like waiting for a bus, ie if you don’t like this one, don’t worry, there’ll be another along in a minute. Midnight in Paris (2011) was for this reviewer Mr Konigsberg’s finest for some time, so does To Rome with Love (2012) match up? Well…

…it is certainly keeping up Allen’s new-found love of Europe, with the romantic beauty of Rome forming a warm backdrop to an essentially charming, mostly amusing tale of the lives, loves and misadventures of the Eternal City’s residents.

And it is very good to see Allen back in his own film in a starring role, visiting Rome as the neurotic (surprise, surprise) husband Jerry of a woman in his own age bracket (which is a genuine surprise), Phyliss (the excellent Judy Davis), whose daughter Hayley (Alison Pill) is set to marry Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). However, Jerry’s frustrated talents as an opera director may be about to be given a new lease of life, when he discovres that Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato), Michelangelo’s funeral director father, has a world-class singing voice – but only in the shower.

Architect Alec Baldwin, meanwhile, is taking his own trip down memory lane, visiting the street on which he lived as a student back in the day. Chancing upon young Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), the pair discover that they have a great deal in common, which may well be to their mutual advantage. Finally, in what is the film’s funniest vignette by far, we meet Leopoldo who, tiring of his happy family life and job as a clerk, is about to discover that being a celebrity has its own price.

As with virtually every Allen picture, there’s much more good here than bad; the film’s pacing and intermittently very sharp dialogue make for a more-than entertaining dollop of whimsy and, even if some of the stories occasionally drag a little and some of the exchanges appear a touch forced, this is still likely your best bet for summer in the cinema.

112 mins. In English and Italian.

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