Woody Allen is back! Wasn’t it just last winter when I saw Midnight in Paris? New year, new Woody Allen film. How he churns out material to write and direct a movie every year I will never know! Maybe that says something about his movies. Well, maybe not.
To Rome With Love is a medley of stories (four to be precise) about fame, nostalgia, betrayal, and … (wait for it) ... love. Mentioning all the characters will be an exercise in confusing the reader. The themes interconnect ever so slightly, without any rhyme or reason mind you, but the characters never do.
Woody cleverly uses drama techniques for stage in his film. Jack and John seemingly whisper amongst themselves about whether Monica is a seductress, while she is seated on the same table with them. Oh and Sally, Jack’s girlfriend, is also sitting at the same table (I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned character names) It’s like an aside between two characters, except everybody around them can listen in and pitch into the conversation. And then, there are scenes (yes, more than one) of Giancarlo performing an opera while having a shower on stage. What’s more, he gets a standing ovation, more than once! And the runny liquids on their faces aren’t sprinkles from the shower. They are genuine tears. Trust me, it will make perfect sense the first time and you will laugh or at least muster a chuckle. Maybe not so much the second time. Because by that time, Woody has gone over-board. The film adds up at the end, as well as any Woody film does. And make no mistake, it makes you laugh which is the sole purpose of any basic comedy. But some stories are forcefully played up more than they need to be. I’d be surprised if it gets an Oscar nomination; it will take 6 months of very disappointing cinema to earn itself a nomination (let’s hope I don’t have to eat those words next year).
Jerry, played by Woody himself, claims to have been ‘ahead of his time’ in the early part of his career as an opera director. I’m no Woody Allen aficionado, but I can’t help but suspect Woody’s referring to himself there. Maybe his movies haven’t changed and his audience has. Or maybe through his 43 directorial ventures, he has gradually hypnotized us into appreciating his work. But I don’t think it’s as complicated. Like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get. And one is bound to be good or, at the very least, improve after directing 43 feature films.
Watch if it you liked: Woody Allen’s recent films, especially Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Also, if you enjoyed the popular Art of Love during the Cleveland Film Festival.
To Rome With Love plays at the Cedar Lee.