To Rome With Love (2012) – Film Review

★★★✰✰ Woody Allen writes, directs and stars in To Rome With Love. Penélope Cruz and Jesse Eisenberg co-star.

Woody Allen’s whistle-stop tour of Europe sees a stellar ensemble cast roll up to the Eternal City for another neurotic spin in a waggish tale of relationships and celebrity. To Rome With Love is a flawed but enjoyable escapade.

New York was his town, and it always would be. That was the declaration made by Woody Allen in the divine opening sequence of Manhattan, but the autumn of his career has seen the New York icon spurn his beloved Big Apple for an extended excursion to Europe. The filmmaking nomad took in London with the divisive Matchpoint (2005), before heading to the continent with the intoxicating Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona (2008) and last year’s delightful Midnight in Paris. Now, with a nod to Fellini, Rome gets the Allen treatment – and it’s the city itself that shines as a convoluted structure unravels.

A mish-mash of colourful vignettes – ranging  from a  funeral director who is an opera star in the shower to a pseudo-intellectual menage a trois – To Rome With Love lacks cohesion as the storylines fail to truly intertwine but, thankfully, its unashamed silliness makes it a worthy farce.

Beautiful people meander down ancient alleyways and there’s plentiful Allen-esque whimsy – so much so that it feels like a caricature of a Woody Allen film set in a caricature of Rome, if that makes sense. The plot is cumbersome with moments of the surreal and typical high brow discussions of art and love that –  on this occasion – threaten to become tiresome. Its saviour, however, is the sheer photogenic quality of Rome and the quaint playfulness that emanates from its overloaded script.

By no means a Woody Allen classic but it’s harmless and perfectly enjoyable.

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