TO ROME WITH LOVE may not be Woody Allen’s worst movie, but it’s not for lack of trying. Make that, the lack of trying anything new, as this near-laughless 2012 yawn is an exhausted retread of types and tropes he’d revisited so many times that they felt like the robocalls and ad popups you can’t stop, no matter how many times you hang up, punch delete or threaten bodily harm. Oddly, this snore was the immediate follow-up to the charming Midnight In Paris which had all of us who usually like his work remember why we do. A handful of commendable features are worth a salute, but they’re not enough to save this soggy log from the bottom of the Woodypile.
A four-story pastiche has visitors to Rome mixing with residents. On the positive end, the city is as beguiling as ever, bathed in luxurious sun-dappled hues in the cinematography from Darius Khondji. Penelope Cruz is voluptuously present, injecting her scenes with energy and cheer. Alessandra Mastronardi is charming.
And…that’s it. The script is dead on arrival, and Allen himself, 77 and back on screen for the first time in six years, is so faded he’s almost a hologram. Greta Gerwig, Alison Pill and Elliot Page (then Ellen) do what they can, but the wan material with its inauthentic characters doesn’t support them. Alec Baldwin is tiring, Roberto Benigni flails, and Jesse Eisenberg is the antithesis of appealing. It’s too long to boot, 112 minutes.
Others on hand to no avail include Judy Davis, Alessandro Tiberi, Ornela Muti, Flavio Parenti, Fabio Armiliato, Antonio Albanese, Cecilia Capriotti and Carol Alt. Made for a relatively effcient $17,000,000, it grossed $73,245,000 globally: of that just $16,686,000 was in the US, where it faded away at 116th place in the 2012 crowd.