To Rome with Love 1½/4 – A movie review by James Berdinelli

October 19, 2012 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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Once upon a time, calling a movie “lesser Woody Allen” might be considered a slap in the face. Now, it’s more-or-less expected. In the last decade, Allen has directed two good movies: Match Point and Midnight in Paris.

Everything else has been mediocre. To Rome with Love falls on the lower end of the “mediocre” spectrum, if not below it altogether, and may be Allen’s biggest misstep since 1991’s Shadows and Fog. The movie functions as a Valentine to Rome (the latest European city to receive Allen’s loving treatment, filmed as if it was a post card come to life) and an homage to the Italian films he loved as a young filmmaker. This trait, unfortunately, causes To Rome with Love to feel dated. One typically attends an Allen film for comedy, drama, and/or cleverness. To Rome with Love is lacking in all three categories and comes across as trivial. It’s either a failed experiment or a movie that was rushed through production so Allen could fulfill his one project-per-year commitment.

To Rome with Love tells four separate stories which are intercut but not connected. In fact, although they purport to happen in the same city, some appear to transpire in some fantastical parallel universe. Allen’s penchant for “magical realism,” used so effectively in Midnight in Paris, is introduced into at least one of these stories as an awkward, unsatisfying plot device. That it doesn’t work is hardly a surprise considering how poorly thought-out its inclusion is. Beyond allowing Allen to include a few pithy lines and observations, it serves no discernible purpose – kind of like the entire movie, really.

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