Written, directed by and starring Woody Allen, To Rome with Love, is an ensemble piece broken down into separate vignettes; a couple on their honeymoon, an undertaker-cum-opera sensation, an architect caught in a love triangle and a man who wakes up one day to find he has become an instant celebrity, all set against the back drop of Rome
What Allen has tried to do here is to address themes of love and family, whilst also tackling social issues and attempting some ‘profound’ social commentary. However, instead of coming together as an interesting and dynamic piece of cinema, To Rome with Love is a shambles of a film with shallow characters, and a Rome only familiar with tourists. It was more of a vehicle for Allen to rehash his neurotic New York schtick – which feels tired and annoying – than to tell a story that packed any dramatic punch.
Allen’s style of film making here is less than successful. The use of constant wide shots within scenes meant that it had the feel of a play, a badly directed play, with the actors appearing awkward and stiff within their own characters. This is understandable considering how undeveloped and one dimensional the protagonists were. If the lack of emotional connection with any of the characters wasn’t alienating enough; Jesse Eisenburg could do with a swift punch in the face in this film, Allen’s use of dramatic conventions, such as voicing internal dialogue, a present but not present conscience in the form of Alec Baldwin and the sheer fantasy of the instant celebrity thread, resulted in a mess of styles and an infuriating watch.
To Rome with Love has zero charm, heinous characters and average writing. Allen attempted to romance the viewer with his version of Rome, but silly stereotypes and cliched scenery gave the whole film a gloss and sheen not uncommon with a travel programme. The incessant Italian farcical music made this even worse. Annie Hall seems a long way away and it was a struggle to see this movie through to the end.