Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"To Rome With Love" - Woody Allen, Roberto Benigni, Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz (2012)

Sue, as a rule, does not care for Woody Allen films. That is until recently when she viewed “Midnight in Paris”, Mr. Allen’s last film. I still haven’t seen that one. (I seem to be stuck on “Whatever Works”).  But this latest release by the iconic writer, comedian, actor and director appealed to us both. So, on a hot summer afternoon, (100 degrees plus), we sought the comfort of a dark, cold theater to spend a few hours in another world, viewing other people’s lives. As usual, at least for me, I was not disappointed. As for Sue, she was delighted with this quirky, off beat film, which is really a love poem to Rome.

The film follows 5 couples; if you count the parents; as one set of prospective in laws, who are American, are about to meet their Italian counterparts. What follows is too complicated to put down here with any justice, so you’ll just have to see the film.

Director Allen states in an interview with McClatchy Newspaper’s Rene Rodriguez, that he had several stories to tell, and so he was “.. so inspired that I couldn’t figure out which story to tell…. Finally I decided to make one movie with a lot of stories in it.” The result is a sprawling, yet connected set of stories intertwined by love, fate, and in some cases stuff seemingly out of left field, but based on the reality we all live.

Roberto Benigni is brilliant as the ordinary man, who suddenly finds himself the center of media attention, where all his movements are scrutinized and his privacy invaded. He is incensed at the turn of events; and has no idea of why he is suddenly famous; but when it is all taken away; his feelings are of being abandoned for a talent he knows he never possessed in the first place.

Alec Baldwin does a superb job as a successful architect returning to Italy, where he once studied, and through a chance encounter meets a young American architect student who lives in the same street where he used to live. He sees himself in the choices being made by the younger man, and I was left wondering whether those sequences were merely in his own mind.

Throw in the antics of two sets of prospective in laws, and the problems engendered by their children as they continue to discover themselves, and this film works on many levels. Woody Allen is at his all-time best in this one, where he basically plays himself. Just a hint at part of his role; he’s the one responsible for the short lived career of a mortician who can only perform opera in public while taking a shower. If that doesn’t get you to see this film, I give up.

Another wonderfully entertaining film from one of the best; and by the way; he’s from Brooklyn.

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