To Rome With Love features four, unrelated storylines, so I’m going to break the intro/plot synopsis into four separate parts this time around.
Leopoldo Becomes A Celebrity
Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) is just an average Joe. He works a normal job, but one day, Leopoldo is forced into the lavish lifestyle of a famous and popular celebrity. Leopoldo has it all , but will he accept his new-found fame? Or will Leopoldo crack under the hectic lifestyle of a celebrity, as he avoids relentless chases from the paparazzi?
Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) is in love with Sally (Greta Gerwig), but Sally’s best friend, Monica (Ellen Page) is too tempting to resist. John (Alec Baldwin) tries to offer some advice as a mentor, but Jack is mesmerized by Monica’s “intellectual“, down-to-earth charm.
Antonio & Milly
Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) wants to impress some big names in the business world, but his wife, Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) doesn’t show up for an important career changing meeting. Milly’s sudden disappearance sends Antonio into a panic, but he has one solution for his problems: Antonio will use a prostitute named Anna (Penélope Cruz) as a stand-in wife. Antonio tries to fool his potential employers, but Anna’s sexually provocative look and behavior might cause some trouble.
Jerry's Big Vision
Jerry (Woody Allen) and Phyllis (Judy Davis) take a trip to Rome. But a simple vacation/visit to see their daughter, Hayley (Alison Pill) and her soon-to-be husband, Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) takes a sudden and bizarre turn. Apparently, Michelangelo’s father, Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato) has a real talent for singing….but he can only showcase this talent in the shower. Michelangelo and his mother are against a full-time singing career, but Jack has other ideas. He wants to promote and manage the career of the shower singer, but can Jerry transform an ordinary funeral home director into a true star?
I know this is going to sound corny, but where’s the love? Rome is supposed to be this magical city of love, that inspires feelings of wonder, and Rome will provide a joyous experience for any happy couple. This is what the story wants you to believe, but the characters aren’t interested in true love, or remaining faithful to their partners. Jack has the hots for Monica, and he can’t control his urges to sleep with her. Antonio is nervous and shy, but he eventually succumbs to an “offer” from Anna. And Milly is obsessed with a famous Italian actor, and for some bizarre reason, Milly desires a one-night stand with a random thief. At times, I felt confused, because the vast majority of characters in this film can’t control their urges to sleep with other people, and in most cases, infidelity triumphs over true love.
Oh, and as far as Monica goes……I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t buy into the “she’s SO irresistible!” stuff. The story wants you to believe Monica as this desirable, and intellectual hot woman, who has the ability to drive any man crazy. Ellen Page is an attractive woman, but I don’t put her on the same level as other attractive Hollywood actresses. Jessica Alba, Amber Heard, Mila Kunis, and Rachel McAdams would’ve been more believable in this role, because Ellen Page really can’t match their drop-dead gorgeous looks.
Woody Allen provides a hilarious performance, and I enjoyed his directing. Allen captured the natural, awe-inspiring beauty of Rome, and Allen’s special touch provided the necessary feelings of a lighthearted, romantic setting. Woody Allen probably won’t earn any Oscar nominations this time around, but his directing is one of the very few highlights for this film.
The misguided screenplay did bother me, and two storylines really felt out of place here. Leopoldo’s fantasy from rags to riches story really didn’t fit with the “love” theme for this film, and the story of the shower singing funeral home director didn‘t provide any romantic feelings. Both storylines felt so random, and neither story fits within the context of this film.
I don’t have any complaints about the acting, but To Rome With Love is a dull film, that features uninteresting and disjointed storylines. Allen tries to throw in a mix of fantasy with the Leopoldo storyline and Alec Baldwin’s character, but the fiction side of this film really didn’t do anything for me, because everything felt so confusing most of the time. Also, To Rome With Love is horribly boring. The lack of continuity is a real problem here, and each storyline moves at an unbearable sluggish pace. To Rome With Love is a big disappointment. Although, Midnight In Paris set the bar pretty high, so Allen did have some big shoes to fill.
Final Rating: 3/10