|Baldwin, Page, and Eisenberg in Rome|
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, and Stephen Tenenbaum
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page
Last year, Woody Allen did a little film set in Paris that won him his fourth Oscar. This year he looks at Rome in a less effective and less charming vehicle. Featuring a solid cast, the film follows a series of couples throughout their misadventures and indiscretions in the Eternal City. The couple that opens and closes the movie is Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) and Hayley (Alison Pill), who are in love and who do not have much conflict. They are pushed aside for Hayley's parents Jerry (Allen) and Phyllis (Davis). Jerry is determined to turn Michelangelo's father (opera tenor Fabio Armiliato) into a star singer, and both couples struggle with the effect it has on Michelangelo's family. Meanwhile, Jack (Eisenberg) cheats on Sally (Gerwig) with the poser Monica (Page), as John (Baldwin) looks on and advises him. While this occurs, newlyweds Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) cheat on each other with Anna (Cruz) and movie star Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese). Also, a working family man named Leopoldo (Benigni) rises to fame for no apparent reason, only to fall from it. Needless to say, a lot goes on before the couples fall back into each other's arms.
Despite all of these storylines, the movie is not overlong. Allen knows how to make a light ensemble comedy without overstaying his welcome. The cast is just right for the roles, which play on some of their type-cast characteristics, and they do have nice chemistry. Though the film has no real grit to its story, this is what most of Allen's comedies are like, and that is okay. Of course, it feels as if Allen is not trying very hard with this farce. Light comedy is fine, but light Woody Allen comedy is overkill. There was no spark, no connection to these characters. They were not lovable or empathetic like some of his other creations. Some of the dialogue attempted humor, yet it seems like Allen could write this in his sleep, given the number of light comedies he has done. Every now and then, Allen makes a great movie. Although this is not one of those, it is entertaining, and it's a lighthearted film that can be enjoyed if not fully lauded for its efforts.
Oscar Potential: Best Original Screenplay