Saturday, October 13, 2012

To Rome with Love

By Sati. Saturday, October 13, 2012 , , , , , , ,

There are certain people working in cinematic world whose decisions puzzle me. One of such decisions is working, working and then working some more when they really don't need to do that - look at composer Alexandre Desplat. For the last few years it has been embarrassing to witness how much he is wasting his talent away. Instead of focusing on quality, he is focusing on quantity. And now look at Woody Allen. He makes one movie a year. And when the movie is as bad as To Rome with Love, I really don't understand the praise he is getting for being so prolific. I for one would much rather have no new movie by Allen this year when the result is that awful.

To Rome with Love is as bad as it confusing. We watch few different stories, with no link whatsoever, other than perpetual miscasts and bad script. Hayley (Alison Pill) meets Italian Michelango and they fall in love. Hayler invites over her parents - retired father, formerly working in music business, Jerry (Woody Allen) and psychiatrist mother Phyllis (Judy Davis). Upon arrival to Rome families of the future married couple met and Jerry hears Michelangelo's father sing in the shower, which enchants him. In another story Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) who lives with his girlfriend, out of nowhere meets his favorite architect (Alec Baldwin) on the street. To add to the confusion, his girlfriend's friend Monica (Ellen Page) flies over for a visit and soon sparks start to fly out between her and Jack.
In another segment married couple comes for vacation to Rome and call girl named Anna (Penelope Cruz) is sent to their room by mistake, when the wife of a man is lost in Rome. The man pretends in front of his family that Anna is his wife - Milly - to avoid embarrassment, while Milly meets Italian movie star on the streets on Rome. And finally there is Roberto Benigni, in completely unwatchable segment, where he plays a man who is famous for no apparent reason.

Writing all of this down was almost as exhausting as sitting through this film. Woody Allen is dangerously approaching the point where his desire to make one movie per year is becoming ridiculous and slowly it is endangering his legacy. To Rome with Love is a BAD movie. In fact, if it wasn't for very few characters here that were fun to watch I wouldn't be able to finish it. The film lacks laughs, wit and sense. At one point Michelangelo's father sings in the shower at the opera, during the show, on stage. That's exactly how it sounds. Allen showed a lot of ridiculous things in his movies but they were never embarrassing to witness. Well, until now, that is.
Roberto Benini's scenes are so incredibly stupid and baffling I was exhausted watching them. So are the adventurous of Milly, it looked like Allen wanted to copy Italian movies he saw, but he has done so without charm and in the effect what was supposed to be whimsical storyline turns into one that is tiring to watch. Alec Baldwin's character only interacts with certain characters, while others don't see him. It's never explained. Worse yet - I truly don't care what was up with that part. I don't know, I don't wanna know, I'm out.

But the worst thing about To Rome with Love is Ellen Page. I was never a fan of hers - I think she is crazy overrated and her Academy Award nomination for Juno was way too much praise for her performance. She was disastrous in Inception, where she aimlessly wandered around, but here she is just laughable. The worst part is that she is cast as this sexual, alluring femme fatale. Ellen Page of all people. She looks like she just finished cleaning the bathroom in this movie. There are many confusing things in the film, but the fact that she is supposed to be someone all those men are attracted to was by far the most baffling thing in this mess.
Allen has such a great cast here - Italian actors actually manage to outshine the Americans, because the script simply gives them more interesting parts to play, not typical nervous wrecks of Allen's universe. Lovely Allison Pill has nothing to do here, though, Eisenberg is his usual self, Baldwin can't even be funny with lifeless script. However there are three people that nearly rescued the film. Nearly.

Penelope Cruz is terrific as prostitute Anna - she is charming, sexy and passionate. I don't have a problem with Spanish actress playing Italian woman as many others seem to, she was really good and - well, I don't speak Italian - but she sounded great. Another characters that work are Jerry and Phylis. In fact I wish all of the other crap was cut from the film and Allen just focused the whole movie on this couple, who comes to Rome to meet their future son in law.
The only reason why their story works is that they are played by Allen himself and amazing Judy Davis. Allen has been absent in front of camera since his 2006 comedy Scoop (trust me comparing to this one Scoop is a masterpiece of comedy). I think Allen's films are the funniest when he is acting in them. Otherwise his leading actors just try to copy him - the effects are usually disastrous as with terrible Kenneth Brannagh in Celebrity and just horrid Larry David in Whatever Works. As for Davis, she always shines in Allen's films. These two have great chemistry together and their story arc is the only one in the whole movie that made me laugh. Singing in the shower moments aside.

I love Italian food. Spaghetti is my all time favorite dish. But one time I undercooked pasta and it was inedible. Everything was fine - the sauce, the cheese, the pasta had all the right ingredients. But it was bad because I didn't cook it long enough. The script for To Rome with Love is just like that - had Allen had some time to think it all through and really wonder whether all those stories are truly worth their place in this movie, this could have been charming, effortless movie. But it's not. I wish Woody simply vacationed in Rome. Without movie camera with him.

To Rome with Love (2012, 112 min)
Plot: The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Alison Pill, Judy Davis, Roberto Bengini.





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44 comments:

  1. This looked terrible.
    I agree with you about Ellen Page, she is so overrated - as is Juno. Garner definitely gave the better performance in that film.

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    1. It was really bad, total waste of time.
      Oh, Garner was much better than her in Juno for sure!

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  2. I never liked Woody Allen as a director because I've mostly not enjoyed his movies. He has his style, some like it, some don't get it. The only movie I liked, happens to be the one that has my favorite Scarlett Johansson performance ever (I don't like her as much as some) and it is Match Point. It's not a comedy and I think if there was a coherent logic to this situation, it would be the fact that I simply dislike Allen's take on humor. I have yet to watch Midnight in Paris and I think liking it would be much simpler if I'd not know Allen is behind it.
    Great review on a movie I don't plan to watch.

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    1. I'm a huge Woody Allen's fan but over the last few years he only manages to give the audiance good movie every 2 years - problem is he insists on releasing one every year so there is quite a lot of bad movies coming from him lately. I adore Match Point, I agree it's best work by Scarlett. I don't consider her to be a great actress but she did well there.

      Midnight in Paris isn't that funny, it's mostly charming and clever, so maybe you'll like it - it has some of typical Allen humour in it, but it's mostly just a nostalgic love letter to different time :)

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    2. Well yeah, it doesn't really sound good that Allen just tries to make just a lot of movies. I would prefer quality over quantity but I guess the guy has nothing else to do..

      I will watch Midnight in Paris soon I guess, after I'm done with my school paper.

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    3. I hope you'll like it, it was one of the better movies last year, though it didn't crack my top 10 of 2011. The cast in it is amazing, though.

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  3. Great review!

    Ellen Page was 'blah', and I agree on Allen being in his own films. They're much funnier than the ones he's not in, even if I did love Midnight in Paris.

    Though I'd give the film about a 55, I agree it's not the film Allen should be doing. It was a mess, but I did enjoy parts of it.

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    1. Thank you!

      I liked Midnight too, perhaps he wouldn't be a good fit there. But I wish he starred in Whatever Works, Larry David was so insanely annoying in it.

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    2. Ha, I didn't find him that annoying, but it helped whenever he had Evan Rachel Wood in a scene with him.

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    3. She was lovely in the movie, her and Clarkson really made it worth watching.

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  4. How true!
    I wanted to watch this because I thought it would be as good as Midnight in Paris and Vicky Christina Barcelona, but I was really disappointed. It's like he had some ideas for the charcters and plot but never completed them. Really, what was going on with Benigni's story? Was it supposed to criticize how easily people become celebrities nowadays?
    Anyway, loved your review! Enjoy Sunday!

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    1. Yes it was a huge step down from both of these films, it was such a mess and what's worse none of those stories connected to others. They were all filled with such ridiculous ideas too.

      I think so, though sadly it was really unwatchable I was embarassed seeing it. That joke would be fine in one scene but making a story arc out of it was silly.

      Thank you!

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  5. This was a bad movie and I agree with you about Baldwin's Character. As For Ellen Page. The two movies I thought she really shined in was Hard Candy and Whip it. If you haven't seen those. Please check em out

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    1. I haven't seen Whip It, but I did see Hard Candy - she was good in it, but I thought it was mostly because she had such a great character to play.

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  6. I read this in the grocery store and was very amused by how much you hated it. There is something inherently wrong with me (well, numerous things) in that an overwhelmingly negative review always piques my interest, but I'm going to do my best to take your word for it.

    I'm not the biggest Allen fan by any means, but I loved Match Point, Midnight in Paris, and of course, Annie Hall. I didn't really care for Celebrity, though I remember thinking that Winona Rider looked pretty hot.

    Apparently I wanted to share that with you, for some reason.

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    1. Negative reviews are also much more fun to write, since hatred is such an easy emotion to articulate especially when that disaster could have been avoided by Allen simply taking a year off :)

      Winona and Charlize both :) They were probably the best things in Celebrity.

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  7. This was a total disappointment considering what Woody pulled out last year with Midnight in Paris and just goes to show you that even he can still make crappy films. Sadly, despite all of the incredible talent involved, this just so happens to be one of those films. Good review Sati.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I hoped the years of his worse films are behind us but unfortunetly it still happens.

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  8. I wouldn't go to see this if you paid me. I hate Woody Allen... there I said it

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    1. Woah, really? Well this movie was one of his worst anyways :)

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  9. Hmmm, so is it even worth a rental just for the scenery??

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    1. Not really, cheaper and more exciting to buy a postcard :)

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  10. I can't stand Woody Allen. I've given so many of this movies a try and I hated them. Then Midnight in Paris came along and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, so I thought I'd give this movie a try against my better judgement. I'm glad I haven't. This sounds just like all of his other movies.

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    1. I love Woody and he made some of my favorite films, but this one was really bad.

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  11. Woody is one of my all time favorite directors. I've seen all of his films and this is by far his worst, in my opinion. I hated everything about it. I did enjoy your spaghetti analogy, that was better than anything in this movie.

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    1. Haha, thank you :) I was more bored during You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, but even that one was better written than Rome fiasco.

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  12. I didn't even dig Midnight in Paris that much so I'm definitely staying clear then! Good review :)

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    1. Oh, definetly, it's a complete waste of time.

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  13. humm well, I don't think it's bad. Honestly, I found it hilarious, and so did everyone else in the theatre that night (whatever that's worth). Also, I don't think the stories *need* to fit together, in any way, so I'm fine with the lack of connections. But the thing is, there's really no message... and when I watch a Woody Allen film I except more criticism and wit. I agree with you on that.

    About Ellen Page: I don't disliker (I have no opinion really), and I liked her character here because I know SO many people like her, their unbearable. One thing I loved was Woody's own story with the opera singer. I know it's stupid and you don't agree, but... it's just so funny. I guess humour is completely subjective, and that's the only thing that To Rome WIth Love has to offer. That's why it's not amazing, but depending on one's sense of humour, it can be at least good.

    PS: So many of your posts to catch up with, I've been completely MIA lately!

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    1. I'm just used to Allen's stories being tied in some way, like in Husbands and Wives where at least one person in one story arc knew someone from another. Things in To Rome with Love just looked more random than I was used to in Allen's films.

      I'm glad you had a good time with this movie, I can see why people would be laughing during this scene, but for me it was just a bit too much.

      Oh no worries! But I missed your posts!

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  14. The only reason to watch for me is Penelope Cruz, who looks hot in the trailer, glad you at least found her worth watching.

    With all the negative reviews, I won't be missing anything great, so I've decided to skip To Rome With Love.

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    1. She was great, really enjoyed her performance.

      That's a good call!

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  15. Ouch. That bad, huh? I still want to check it out, just to see how bad it is. I don't like Woody Allen's whiny style, so I really don't expect this movie to win me over. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope you will like it a bit more than I did, only so you wouldn't waste 2 hours on this completely.

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  16. I remember leaving the theater shaking my head. Talk about a tale of two movies. The first half had me. It wasn't great but it had it's moments. Then talk about flying off the rails. What a muddled and idiotic mess it became. I saw it once in the theater, not planning on seeing it again.

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    1. That's a good description of this movie, I wish it was more connected and thought out.

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  17. This film is really dividing people and critics isn't it. I saw it at the closing night of the Italian Film Festival and reactions were polarised. Anyhoo, I wrote a blogpost about how Woody would handle shooting a film at the Colosseum: http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the-colosseum/

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    1. Yes, I really think it's one of Allen's worst. I can see how some people may enjoy it, but I really prefer if he gave himself more time to think over the script.

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  18. Oh what a shame! I'm sorry it was so bad. I've not been won over by the Woody Allen films I've seen (Match Point, Vicky, Christina, Barcelona) but I was hoping this would be good. Especially given the casting! Looks like I'll have to give this one a miss! Thanks for the heads up :)

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    1. Yeah, it's definetly not worth seeing, practically every other movie by Woody is a better choice :)

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  19. Wow - you write with such an authoritative tone, absolutely slamming the movie.

    I liked it. Found it enjoyable and at times hilarious. It wasn't perfect but then, how many movies are? Have you tried making a movie?

    Rather than be so hugely critical and negative about his films, why not stop watching them? I don't understand the tone at all.

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    1. I see, so because you liked the movie everyone should like it? And the review stating what went wrong for me is "slamming the movie"?

      "why not stop watching them"? I'm not even going to dignify that ridiculous comment with longer response.

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  20. Finally saw this last week and couldn't agree more with your review, it is a horrible movie and I there wasn't much which was funny. The idea behind the fame part was cool, but dragged on for way too long. Like you I wish he'd spend more time on this. And the Baldwin thing...I was as confused as you...

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    1. Glad you agree! Honestly, the script for that film was such a mess, I'm not sure even Allen knows what Baldwin's character was supposed to be.

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