"To Rome With Love"
“To Rome With Love”, the latest film from Woody Allen, is all over the place, but still somehow glorious. It consists of four stories, intertwined in the telling, but connected only by their setting amongst sumptuously photographed Roman cityscapes:- a rural couple on honeymoon get separated and caught up in big city shenanigans; a young man contemplates an affair with his girlfriend’s best friend, watched over by an imaginary (mostly) mentor; an office-worker suddenly finds himself famous for no apparent reason; an opera-director discovers a new tenor who can only sing whilst in the shower. It comprises many familiar elements (neurotics, pseudo-intellectuals, femmes fatales, overly sensible wives, cheerful prostitutes; absurd situations, virtuoso agonising) and is populated by Allen regulars (Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Woody himself), newcomers (Greta Gerwig, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page), and a raft of amusing Italian character actors (most notably Roberto Benigni). None of the stories stands up to logical scrutiny, and the well-worn theme seems to be that life is all about vague contentment, ideally punctuated by brief, joyful adventures (celebrity, artistic achievement, casual adultery etc.). It is consistently entertaining, however, constantly keeping the audience guessing. Probably not a work of genius, but Allen’s class is undeniable. Plus, there’s Penelope Cruz in a tiny red dress, which can only be a good thing.