Perhaps the weakest of the entries this week, To Rome with Love, captures the beauty of Rome expertly yet fails to consistently entertain. It’s a mixed bag, as the majority of the tales being weaved instantly leave the mind once the movie is over, whereas one in particular ranks up there with the best Allen has crafted in recent times. The problem is not the ideas, for on paper, they are entertaining prospects: a failing career and fear of death; the illusion of fame; the trials and tribulations of a young couple; an architect reliving a thirty-year old mistake. The issue is the execution. Antonio’s story, whereby a misunderstanding means he has to introduce a prostitute as his wife to his family, falls immediately into slapstick, and whilst parts may have worked well in a charmingly offbeat slice of Allen prose, on screen it fails to be quite as entertaining. The same can be said of the story featuring Allen himself, as a music mogul who hears his daughter’s soon to be father-in-law, singing in the shower and decides he could be wonderful on stage. Allen fails to find any subtlety in this narrative, instead hitting the viewer over the head with its deep themes every five minutes in increasingly expository dialogue.
Leopoldo’s story is marginally better, as he becomes famous overnight for seemingly no apparent reason. It’s an intriguing and witty analysis of fame, but is given too much screen time for such a slender story. This is where Allen falls down in this attempt, for the three mediocre narratives battle for screen time with the much more superior fourth tale. With extra breathing room this tale of an architect (Alec Baldwin) reliving his time in Rome from thirty years earlier where he (played by Jesse Eisenberg) falls for his girlfriend’s best friend (Ellen Page), could have been something special. Like the other tales it is a light bite of cinema, but it’s also a heartfelt tale in the vein of Midnight in Paris. With a bit of editing (the film comes in at just under two hours), this could have been the main meal, with the other tales being enjoyable sides, but unfortunately, as it is, To Rome with Love is middle-of-the-road modern Woody.