To Rome with Love is the latest offering from Woody Allen. It is a formulaic flick set on the streets of Rome. Despite strong performances from its cast, the movie feels stale and brings nothing new to the table.
To Rome with Love stars Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Flavio Parenti, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Greta Gerwig, Woody Allen, and Judy Davis. Woody Allen knows how to churn out a romantic comedy but he usually relies on familiar tastes.
The latest offering feels a bit like Midnight in Paris. It is a multi-pronged view of romance as experienced by the different characters. It doesn’t have the same thematic clarity of its predecessor that has Owen Wilson as a man looking for creative inspiration via the muse of nostalgia.
In Midnight in Paris, Wilson was the youthful reflection of Allen’s desire to turn back the pages of time. In To Rome with Love, this is seen in the character that Jesse Eisenberg plays. He plays Jack, an architect in Room who is living with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig).
Jack is an emotional fellow but he’s weak when it comes to love. His girlfriend knows about this and she asks him not to fall in love with her friend Monica (Ellen Page) when she visits them. Monica is a man-eater who can make any male fall for her through as little as a breathy giggle. Despite Sally’s warning, Jack falls for Monica.
While the storyline is solid enough for a movie, Allen can’t sit still on it for the whole runtime. He fills it with cheese-filled scenes in between. Some of the narratives include a story of a talented opera singer who can only sing in the shower. There’s also one about a retired Broadway producer, played by Allen himself, who is known for disastrous openings.