<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Isabella Ferrari.
One always looks forward to a Woody Allen film for its sheer eccentricity and the plethora of caricatures that both enlighten and inveigle. To Rome With Love doesn’t quite paint a pretty postcard of the romantic Italian city but serves more to propose it is a city of delusions and fantasies. You will laugh but you won’t be moved by this tale.
At first I wasn’t too thrilled about movies with Woody Allen in them. I preferred the ones he just wrote and directed. But you realise that he’s quite an acquired taste and if you can see where his style of comedy comes from then you learn to appreciate it more. In this ensemble cast with various stories running side by side you get treated to a man reminiscing about his Roman romance, an average Joe who suddenly gets ‘famous’, newly weds who get ‘separated’ for a while by a call girl and an actor, a father and mother having issues with their daughter’s new Italian fiancé, and a man’s buried dream to be an opera singer.
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of who plays who and what the stories are for that will quite ruin your experience. Just to say that the story of the common man with the oh-so-monotonous life turning into a ‘star’ is probably Allen’s comment on people who become famous and all the things that go with it, which ultimately make them long for privacy and a regular life. It’s also a warning to them to appreciate what they have since once they lose it, they will crave for it even more.
Roberto Benigni and Alec Baldwin are wonderful in their roles. So are Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg. In a tight, short red dress Penélope Cruz is well… you’ll hear the sighs when she comes on screen.
The only part of the film that I failed to get was the preoccupation with the ‘bathroom opera singer’ and I just felt that Allen should have cut the film a bit short because after a while you start yawning. It all feels a bit stretched. That isn’t to say it isn’t funny for you will certainly laugh, maybe not at the jokes but just at the way these brilliant actors have portrayed their bizarre roles.
Please be ready to read lots of subtitles since almost half the film is in Italian.