Even the aforementioned US premiere of »To Rome with Love«
on June 14 led to a certain disillusionment. Despite the fact the romantic comedy had the prestigious honor of being the opening film of this year's Los Angeles Film Festival
and received particular attention, only five actresses eventually attended the event. With none of the film's male cast members being there, Woody was the man of the hour and fully enjoyed the presence of Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig, Alison Pill, Alessandra Mastroianni and Simona Caparrini that evening. While introducing his ode to the Italian city, the filmmaker was completely in his element and paid tribute to the whole ensemble, "I was blessed with a great cast. A cast I'm counting on to make me look good. I would have played Jesse's role if I was 50 years younger, but there's nothing I can do about that." Furthermore he joked to the audience before the lights went down, "If you like the picture, I'm thrilled. If you hate it and think it was a waste of time coming, don't let me know 'cause I get depressed easily."
His wry sense of humor didn't prevent the critics from writing and publishing their honest reviews over the following days, of course. “All things considered,” notes Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter
, “it’s a relief to learn that Allen’s next production will be set in New York and San Francisco, as he would seem to have played out his string in Europe for the moment. Although the character he portrays here is a reluctantly retired opera director who discovers a brilliant tenor, Allen the writer-director has gone tone-deaf this time around, somehow not realizing that the nonstop prattling of the less than scintillating characters almost never rings true.”
The critique by Variety's
Peter Debruge goes in a similar direction. He complains "By juggling such a large ensemble, Allen doesn't really have the time or space to flesh out characters, who remain almost cartoonishly one-dimensional. But the film feels like 15% too much as it is, with each of the strands coming in slightly longer and loopier than necessary." In his point of view "Allen is now making movies for the very pseudo-intellectuals his characters have long derided, as if the multihyphenate's lifelong preoccupation with death must necessarily become more profound the nearer he gets to the end. Instead, Allen seems increasingly relaxed, as if determined to meet that tall dark stranger with a chuckle, an attitude borne out by this relatively casual Roman holiday." Emma Bernstein, writing for the Playlist, points out that "To Rome With Love feels like four minor stories that Allen found in a pile and loosely stitched together in a narrative tied to Rome. That said, Rome is beautiful, and a mouth watering set for any director. Unfortunately, you can’t build a movie on a set alone.” Samuel Kleinman is rather diplomatic and concludes in his article for Filmophilia
"not Woody Allen’s greatest work, but not his worst either. Allen wins brilliant performances by several of his main actors and even creates memorable characters delivered by some of his Italian actors. The creativity and originality of Allen’s artistic expression is once again there, as his ideas do not fail to impress or humor. However, the execution of the film is far from great, as the stories move from hysterical to redundant. By the end the jokes and character become tiresome. To sum, if you want Allen, you will get Allen. If you want Great Allen? Well, you might want to pass on this one."
Both David Denby
and Richard Brody
apparently enjoyed the film and published positive reviews in The New Yorker
. According to Denby, “To Rome with Love is light and fast, with some of the sharpest dialogue and acting that Allen has put on the screen in years." He also praises Ellen who "gives a restrained but brilliantly satirical performance as an intellectual and emotional faker" and describes her as "one of the greatest of Allen’s female creations". Brody goes even further by pointing out that "young actress Monica, played by Ellen Page, steals the film. Allen invests her with a capricious charm and an untapped power akin to that of Dianne Wiest in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” and suggests a wisely classical notion of art and life—of the dangerous emotions and reckless behavior that are at the core of the artistic impulse, the actor’s allure, and that are both the essential inspiration and the constant theme of art itself. Monica’s divine madness is right at home in a movie that is one of Allen’s wildest, most scattershot, and frivolous." Kent Turner shares the same opinion and states in his article for Film-Forward
, "Ellen Page takes narcissism to new heights. Coldly manipulative, Monica is not quite an all-out villain, but she’s close. And as far as I can recall, she’s the first character in Allen’s universe to shatter decorum and drop an F-bomb since Allen himself did so in Deconstructing Harry. Yet she fits right into Allen’s repertory of over-intellectualized characters, who have no idea what they really want, or reject it once they get it." Some nice closing words come from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, who summarize the film on Spirituality & Practice
in this way: "To Rome with Love is Woody Allen's latest warning to us about the dangers and the delusions of love, marriage, fame, and the need to control everything that shows up in our lives."
However, these occasional bright spots should not blind us to the fact that »To Rome with Love«
continues to receive mixed reviews, ratings and grades at best. This is also reflected by a 53 percent average on Rotten Tomato's
so-called "Tomatometer" (a rating that is automatically calculated by the percentage of approved critics who recommend a certain movie) and a Metascore of 56
out of 100 points based on 19 critics on Metacritic
. If you would like to read additional comments on the movie, I strongly recommend checking David Hudson's ultimate review summary on fandor.com
! Moreover, take a look on Television Without Pity
for an in-depth description and analysis of all four vignettes!
Continuing their promo tour, Woody Allen and some of the actors went to New York City last week. First, Ellen and Greta Gerwig were on-air guests on the »On Point with Tom Ashbrook«
radio show where they chatted about the movie as well as how women are depicted in the media nowadays. On the same day the actresses, alongside Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz and producer Letty Aronson, did an interview on »Charlie Rose«
before heading off to a press conference held at the Park Regency Hotel. Subsequently, selected members of the press got the chance to sit with the actors at a press junket and ask their questions. In the evening, Ellen once again stayed away from the red carpet and didn't attend the NYC premiere and screening at the Paris Theatre. Back in LA, she tentatively finished the promotion work by making an appearance on ABC's daytime chatfest »The View«
. Unfortunately the panel of female hosts was mostly interested in unraveling the past and reminding the audience about Ellen's most popular performance to date, rather than talking about Woody Allen's dance with the Eternal City.
» Charlie Rose (06/19/2012) «
(Format: AVI | Codec: XviD | Duration: 49:33 min | Resolution: 640x360 | Size: 340,0 MB)
© Charlie Rose LLC. All rights reserved.
» The View (06/22/2012) «
(Format: AVI | Codec: XviD | Duration: 5:25 min | Resolution: 640x360 | Size: 45,6 MB)
© ABC. All rights reserved.
The box-office gross during the opening weekend, however, proves that »To Rome with Love«
deserves a little bit more attention and that a critics' opinion doesn't necessarily reflect the one of the actual moviegoer. Released in only 5 theatres in Los Angeles and New York City, the Italian romance managed to gross $361,359, averaging $72,272 per screen. That is among the 35 best per-theater-averages of all time, and the second best for both 2012 (after »Moonrise Kingdom«
) and Allen himself (after »Midnight in Paris«
). Overall, as already stated in the first paragraph, it's probably best to make up your own mind about a movie and give it a chance. Sony Pictures Classics
currently plans to expand to more US cities starting July 6 — which makes sense, after all: As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a weekend either. You can check the official website
to find out if the movie will be playing at a theatre near you. For all other locations, you should take a look at the constantly updated listing here
on EPO, and also check here
for information on the upcoming releases in other countries!
On a side note, a new rumour floating around suggests that Willem Dafoe
) will be lending his talents to the »Beyond: Two Souls« video game. According to BroGamer
, an unspecified “source familiar with the project” said that there are more stars in the game with the well-known actor being one of them. This would come as no surprise considering he already voiced the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man game and the main antagonist in »James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing«. It’s important to take the rumour with a grain a salt, however, as neither Quantic Dream
have confirmed the report and the latter responded to Joystiq's
request in this way: "We don't typically comment on rumors or speculation about our products so nothing to share at this time." As always, I will keep you posted on that, especially since creator David Cage mentioned in a recent interview with 3 News New Zealand
that there are "many other things to announce in the coming months".