To Rome with Love

   Director: Woody Allen, Hopscotch Films, Rated M, 112 mins

Filmmaker Woody Allen has made a number of enjoyable romantic comedies set in European capitals, with his last smash hit being Midnight in Paris, a romantic fantasy.
   In his latest postcard from Europe, Allen has chosen the Italian capital for his setting of four intertwining stories, with each attempting to provide a fanciful snippet of their protagonists’ stay in Rome.
   The first story involves Allen himself (as Jerry), a frustrated opera director who comes to Rome with his wife Phyllis (Australian actress Judy Davis - The Eye of the Storm) to meet Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti), the Italian fiancée of their daughter Hayley (Alison Pill - Midnight in Paris) and his parents.
To Rome with Love
   After overhearing the singing ability in the shower of Michelangelo’s father, Giancarlo (Favio Armiliato), Jerry has him repeat his performance to a capacity crowd, which causes considerable strains in the family relationship, producing one of the funniest moments in the movie.
   The second shows John (Alec Baldwin- It’s Complicated), a middle-aged architect, taking a trip down memory lane back to the street where he lived as a student, imagining himself as a young Jack (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg) living happily with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) until the arrival of best friend Monica (Ellen Page), who tries to disrupt Jack’s love-life but fails because of the wise counsel of his older self (Baldwin).
   The next story sees low paid office worker Leopoldo (Italian star Robert Benigni - Life is Beautiful) becoming an overnight celebrity resulting in the paparazzi chasing him from morning to night with the frenzy often frenetic as they try to record every action and utterance.
   Finally, there is the story of the young Italian couple on their honeymoon - Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) who is distracted by her attraction to a famous Italian movie star while her husband Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) is mistaken by Anna (Penelope Cruz- Vicky Cristina Barcelona), a buxom prostitute, to be a prospective client.
   Allen’s attempts to replicate the success of Midnight in Paris appear to fall somewhat short of expectations with his Roman postcard despite the casting of Allen, Baldwin, Cruz, Davis, Eisenberg and Page, portraying their various characters to the hilt and the stories being set against the spectacle of Rome’s major attractions.
   To Rome with Love may not be one of Allen’s best movies but it still is an enjoyable viewing experience.
VIC'S VERDICT:         3 Rubber Stamps

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