Step One: watch Woody Allen’s ‘To Rome with Love’

25 Sep

When I saw the posters advertising To Rome with Love, I noted the release date and made a point to watch it. I didn’t know what it was about, but the big cast names and promise of gorgeous city shots drew me in.

But mainly because, it’s Woody Allen.

There’s a lot of talk that Allen is past his glory days and churns out mediocre movies, but I was curious to see what new morals he had come up with, and where his imagination had taken him this time.

In terms of location, not far it seemed. We could have guessed he was heading to Rome after filming in Barcelona (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Paris (Midnight in Paris). And the title and basic story line – in love in Rome – are beyond clichéd. Some of the scenarios are a little contrived too, like small-town girl moves to big city, and American tourist falls in love with local.

But what Allen never fails at delivering is the truth. We don’t always want to hear it or agree with him, but he’s usually right. He pokes fun at our celebrity-obsessed culture through the character of Leopoldo Pisanello, a regular family man who inexplicably becomes famous overnight. The press hound him with questions such as what he ate for breakfast and whether he prefers briefs or boxers. Who cares? We don’t of course, but if it were Prince Harry or some other celebrity god, we would. Allen shakes us and points out just how ridiculous we can be. But at the same time the moral of the story is that like Pisanello, who at first is relieved then distressed when the press leave him be, it’s better to be somebody than nobody.

There are plenty of other story lines and amusing twists along the way that make To Rome with Love worth watching. It’s one of Allen’s lighter films. There isn’t any blood, or major shoot outs, or passionate rage. He gives us the scary truth and shatters illusions, but with a lot of comedy.

The best gags are reserved to sarcastic Jerry, played by Allen himself. His character is responsible for staging an opera that involves a naked Italian man singing in a shower on stage. Jerry’s wife is convinced he’ll take on any project, even if it is a flop, to escape the boredom of retirement.

Is Allen doing the same? Some critics may say Allen is past his prime. But as long as he entertains us while waving the truth in our faces, keep those comedies coming I say.

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One Response to “Step One: watch Woody Allen’s ‘To Rome with Love’”

  1. Har Shone October 11, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    I do want to see film this but I have to say, the reason people think Allen is past his best, as far as I can see, is because the new mediocrity of his latest movies belies the true brilliance of his earlier stuff.

    For example, Midnight in Paris was just so painfully average. And just entirely self-indulgent – imagine if I wrote a story about myself roaming Bloomsbury and meeting the Bloomsbury group and then concluding that I’m just as talented as they are. I didn’t see any honesty, brutal or otherwise, just simple wish-fulfilment hiding behind a pseudo-intellectual facade. Because, if its Scott-Fitzgerald, it can’t be bad. Obviously. Even if we don’t really see any character development of any of the very flawed writers or of Allen’s own characters.

    What I do like about his films lately is how they are shot – love notes to beautiful cities that show them in all their faded glory.

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