People who know me also know that I am a fan of Woody Allen's more recent movies. Especially his recent Euro-city trips are highly recommendable and not only host a good story but also gives the audience the chance to have a good glance at the city - through his lens. My absolute favorite has been Midnight in Paris, followed by Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
His latest travel brought him to Rome. The good thing is, he also brought us a souvenir: To Rome with Love. (Watch the trailer here and read the plot here.)
Since I cannot recommend Midnight in Paris often enough, and loved Scoop, VCB, and Match Point I have to say that I have entered the film a little biased and had high expectations. Which were possibly quite hard to match.
To Rome with Love provides the audience with a full blown Italian atmosphere (Music, fake Italian accents, Italian, Roman city scenery etc), which one should probably best enjoy with the appropriate glass of Chianti. The score was - as usual supreme, by mixing up classic Italian opera, Italo-Pop and other typical Italo-tunes to have the perfect mini-break-in-Rome- feeling. I felt very mediterranean that very moment. (If I did not look outside the window where everything is white of snow).
Did you notice that I have started with the score? For the only reason that this was truly the best part of the movie. OK, next to the fact that we saw something of Rome for us never been there ourselves, hmm.
The movie is conducted of the four story strings of the different couples whose stories are not necessarily interconnected.
The characters were indeed altogether interesting, since most of the actors were quite new in the scene and leave us watching the movie unbiased. The characters' stories, professions and circumstances give us a somewhat fresh glance to the everyday life of more or less ordinary people and the approach to use different story strings (vignettes) is already known from other movies such as Love Actually. I quite like this sort of technique since it keeps a certain dynamic in the movie, if it is well done - some things were: Unexpected moves and results, laughters from the couch were guaranteed at times and - again, the ideas are fresh and entertaining. Some things were not: Using different time slots, leaving the audience without a clou on things (why is this clerk suddenly famous? Terrorized by the paparazzi? Arrgghhh I have been waiting for an explanation 109 mins, well almost).
Anyways, the movie felt a bit unfinished. The initial thoughts for a good story were there, and they were partly good but I missed this tiny bit of fantastic-ness which Allen had reached in Midnight in Paris for example, which in the end was like a perfect picture. I felt I was still waiting for somebody to pick me up. It felt like someone had some great material (the idea of letting the alter ego travel back in time and experience the student time in Rome and interact with the younger self -- fantastic!) pushed into too less movie minutes which were simply not enough to let every story and character unfold its whole potential.
I would rate this movie mediocre. The story undoubtedly had the potential for something greater, and I find that Allens inital proposal for the films' title - 'Nero Fiddles' - was by far more suitable than the actual one (since it did not quite fit), but all in all I was disappointed.
Whether I would recommend the movie? Yes, maybe. But I would warn everyone with having too high expectations. Be prepared for something fast, something 'nice' not stunning. Light evening entertainment for a wider audience, no younger than 14 I'd say and at times a bit offside the mainstream.
Did someone see the movie? What were your thoughts?