In Rome, the America tourist Hayley meets the local lawyer Michelangelo on the street and soon they fall in love with each other. Hayley's parents, the psychiatrist Phyllis and the retired music producer Jerry, travel to Rome to meet Michelangelo and his parents. When Jerry listens to Michelangelo's father Giancarlo singing opera in the shower, he is convinced that he is a talented opera singer. But there is a problem: Giancarlo can only sing in the shower. The couple Antonio and Milly travel to Rome to meet Antonio's relatives that belong to the high society. Milly goes to the hairdresser while Antonio waits for her in the room. Milly gets lost in Rome and the prostitute Anna mistakenly goes to Antonio's room. Out of the blue, his relatives arrive in the room and they believe Anna is Antonio's wife. Meanwhile the shy Milly meets her favorite actor Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese) and goes to his hotel room "to discuss about movies". One day, the middle-class clerk Leopoldo becomes a ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Roberto Benigni is described at the beginning as a "typical middle class Roman" but throughout the movie he acts with his notorious Florence accent - much different from a Roman's. See more »
Sorry, I don't speak English very well. I'm from Roma. My job, as you can see, is to see that the traffic move. I stand up here, an I see everything. All people. I see life. In this city, all is a story.
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a light trifle for Woody Allen is still amusing, hit-and-miss entertainment
You kinda always know what you'll get with Woody Allen films by this point, which is that for every work that he does that knocks it out of the park (Match Point, Midnight in Paris), he'll come back and then... make a film that just stays as a single or double, to use baseball terms (i.e. Scoop, and this film). To Rome with Love is another "Woody's European City Tour" that follows London, Barcelona and of course Paris, and with Rome he pays tribute by doing one of those Italian anthology comedies (I haven't seen a lot of them frankly, but I'm thinking like back in the 60's with Boccaccio 62), and there are four stories that Woody could also have made individual films. Well, two would have been potentially amazing if they had the right focus (one of them, not so much, the time it has here is fine). Let's quickly rundown:
Woody himself returns for the first time on screen since Scoop (a little too old to be the romantic lead anymore, aside from, say, married to Judy Davis), and he and his wife go to see their daughter, played by Allison Pill, who is set to get married to Michelangelo. His parents are simple Roman folk, the father a mortician... who is also an amazing opera singer, but the catch is that he can only sing great in the shower (don't we all?) so Woody makes a trick: have him sing in the shower - on STAGE! Alec Baldwin plays a guy who, I think, looks back on his younger self as an impressionable architect (Jesse Eisenberg, very Woody-esque surrogate, but plays his own strengths well as well) who has a new romantic interest in the super-neurotic actress Ellen Page plays (a different turn for her that I had fun watching, though intentionally annoying as a character). An Italian couple are in love and are unfortunately separated and, through wacky misunderstandings, wind up with other partners over the course of one day. And Roberto Benigni is a regular guy chased by the paparazzi. Why? Why not?
Woody juggles between these stories and, the worst I can say about it is, it has an air of a sitcom to it. There's some misunderstandings and usually around fame or love or sex, or all of the above, and it's not too deep. Well, maybe the Baldwin/Eisenberg plot has some poignancy about a Man of the World who looks back on his youthful indiscretion, or would-be one, and there is a lot of humor to be mined. Hell, it's great to see Benigni have fun and be actually funny again in his premise, where he starts to go down deeper in the rabbit hole of fame. And while it's the weakest plot of all with the two Italian lovers split apart, when Penelope Cruz comes on screen for her brief time she's sexy, fun, and intelligent in her acting. Even Woody Allen himself, telling a lot of the brand of old, semi-corny jokes (but ALWAYS with a knowing wit and punchline) is amusing.
But when comedy works, it works, and there's a lot of stuff that worked here for me more than it didn't. Just seeing the old Italian man singing in the shower on stage (and applying/washing off Pagliaci make- up!) is a gag that only the most cynical would turn off on. It's a master filmmaker having fun, and a jazz clarinetist (yeah, I'm going there) noodling around on his instrument in a cinematic sort of way. I think for the summer season, which has passed know, it's a fine way to spend an afternoon or evening, not to mention with a wonderful cast by older-and-young Hollywood players and Italian not-so-well-known folks. Just not in an OMG YOU MUST SEE THIS IT WILL WIN AN Oscar sort of experience.
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