Woody Allen has made it a habit of being unpredictable. He suddenly ended his love affair with New York and began to locate his stories in Europe – in London, Barcelona, Paris and now Rome. His magical Midnight in Paris saw a return to form of the old Allen, but he has lost it in To Rome with Love.
The ensemble cast film, with a mix of American and Italian actors, repackages some old jokes, takes some hackneyed situations (a prostitute being mistaken for a timid man’s wife) and links them with a few flashes of characteristic Allen wit.
But this is not enough to elevate the script from insipid and contrived. One of the tracks – of a fading opera director desperate to come out of retirement is so absurd that had might well find its way into a Sajid Khan movie. Another about an architect attracted to his girlfriend’s crazy best friend is predictable. The most original segment is about a regular Roman who gets a taste of celebrity and struggles to deal with it.
Rome is one of the most wonderful cities in Europe, yet Allen’s lens does not capture its romance, history or scale. Of the cast Judy Davis and Penelope Cruz stand out.
Allen is, as always, the bumbling American and Jesse Eisenberg seems to be trying to ape his director’s style and Ellen Page can’t quite convince that she would be a seductress.
There is no way a Woody Allen fan would miss this. So enjoy, and hope that the next city he travels to proves to be his muse — like New York and Paris were.