To Rome with Love is Woody Allen's follow up to his immensely popular film Midnight in Paris. It stars Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni and Woody Allen. It was released in Italy on April 20th, 2012 and will be released in America on June 22nd.
To Rome with Love is an exploration of its character's greatest fantasies and worst nightmares. Which is to say, it's an exploration of Woody Allen's greatest fantasies and worst nightmares. Like his previous feature, Midnight In Paris, it lives solidly in the realm of magical realism where anything can happen and where real life logic doesn't apply.
Instead of a singular plot, To Rome with Love follows several disparate stories, related to each other only by theme and the Roman setting. Comparing and contrasting these stories offers up an insightful look at fame and love, family and passion; where getting what you day-dream of can be the nightmare and living out your nightmare can be just what you really need.
If Allen was inspired by the artists he channeled in Midnight in Paris, here he is inspired by the films of Federico Fellini. Parallels abound. It takes place in Rome, but that's an easy one. There is a character, seemingly a random person off the street, who introduces the film, addressing the viewer directly. There is a romantic scene in which several characters break into a Roman monument, at night, get drenched and fall in love. I could go on. The jovial music, while often culled from Opera, is reminiscent of Nino Rota's upbeat, playful scores that also hold within them a twinge of sadness and dissonance. Some moments are farcical while others focus on little emotional moments.
The film is fun. It's like a sightseeing tour through Rome with a bunch of amusing acquaintances who are a little too nutty to be close friends but are exactly the type of people you would want to have an adventure with in Europe. There are great Woody Allen comedy moments, beautiful locations and just the right amount of lesson at the end to make it all come together without feeling too weighty or like it's trying to be anything more than it is.
The film is not without its flaws. Some of the stories are more interesting than others and at times it rambles. It's fifteen minutes too long and can be a little over indulgent. The unconventional, open ended narrative structure might be off-putting for some and the lack of clear rules in regards to the magical side of the magical realism might frustrate others - but if you go into this movie with an open mind and a love for the types of experiences that only the likes of Fellini can provide, you'll be in for a treat.