Monday, August 20, 2012

To Rome With Love

Starring: Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Alex Baldwin
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Rating: R

I didn’t realize how huge of a Woody Allen fan I really am. After falling in love with “Match Point,” “Vicky Christina Barcelona,” and “Midnight in Paris,” I couldn’t resist another quirky romantic comedy, this time set in captivating Rome. In typical Allen fashion, the all-star cast and multiple storylines hold your attention and take you on a journey you definitely weren’t expecting. The relatable characters make this an interesting commentary on society, and it’s a film I’ll most likely add to my personal collection.

We’re introduced to family man Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni, whom I have missed greatly since “Life is Beautiful”). He’s perhaps the most relatable character, until he becomes an overnight celebrity for no apparent reason. Paparazzi swarm him and ask personal details about his shaving habits and his undergarments – an interesting remark on society’s obsession with people who are famous for being famous. It’s suddenly all taken away from him, and he becomes a bit manic – which happens to so many jaded has-beens in Hollywood.

Alec Baldwin plays John, a successful architect and inspiration to young student, Jack (Jesse Eisenberg.) It’s not long before we realize that they’re the same person, and though it’s not clear as to who is living in present day, John tries desperately to prevent Jack from making all the mistakes that he inevitably will, like falling for his girlfriend’s pal Monica (brilliantly played by Ellen Page.) This is the most I’ve ever liked Page, and her portrayal of a “poser” is entirely too relatable – we all know people who remember just enough from their liberal arts education to appear hip and knowledgeable.

Penelope Cruz is smoking hot as Anna, a prostitute who mistakes virginal Antonio for her client. She ends up pretending to be his fiancĂ© all day when his family surprises him – a nod to typical Allen absurdism. His real fiancĂ©, Milly, lost on the way to a salon, stumbles upon a movie set and into the bed of Rome’s hottest celebrity, though perhaps the bad casting was supposed to be funny – this guy and his pinky ring were absolutely nast.

Are you lost yet? Finally, Allen himself graces the screen as the curmudgeonly, recently-retired father of Hayley (a likeable Alison Pill.) Hayley is engaged to Michelangelo (who I would have moved to Rome for as well), and upon the awkward first meeting of the parents, Allen finds a project in Michelangelo’s father: an opera singer, only when in the shower. Desperate to escape retirement, he creates a portable shower stall for this new star, so that he can perform to his best ability onstage. I don't know how he comes up with these plots, but I love them.

The combination of absurd yet pleasant characters, beautiful setting and quirky music make this film an instant Allen classic, and will inspire anyone to go to Rome for some self-discovery or a love affair.

To Rome With Love

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