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» New York Magazine Review - To Rome with Love

by David Edelstein, published on June 17, 2012


At times it looked as likely as squeezing blood from a stone, but Woody Allen’s creative juices can still flow—and flow freely, without fussiness or solemnity, as in his wonderfully buoyant, overlapping omnibus comedy To Rome With Love. At 76, he’s working compulsively fast, death ever closer on his heels, and cutting through the inessentials, flouting naturalism and following his always-great absurdist instincts to their illogical (but resonant) ends. He portrays Rome as a city of roundabouts, from the traffic circle that opens the film to the Coliseum to the piazzas with their seemingly ­endless points of entry. It’s a city that’s ancient and sublime and yet farce is ­intrinsic to it. And it’s the perfect stage for Allen’s peculiar inner world—a place where men will always long for women they can’t have, where the women they do have undermine them, where paparazzi swarm out of nowhere on the latest ­undeserving celebrities, where fame is both a blessing and a curse.

Kudos to Allen’s casting directors, ­Patricia Kerrigan DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger, and longtime associate Juliet Taylor for once more getting him the hippest actors of the day, all evidently thrilled to work for near scale. The always-winning stammerer Jesse Eisenberg is an American who thinks he’s fine and dandy with a girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) who’s just too stable, at which point her actress friend (Ellen Page) arrives to hypnotize him with her hyperliterate stream of references and stories about sexual escapades—another tantalizing neurotic shiksa goddess, borderline untouchable the way girlfriends’ gal pals or sisters will be. Allen provides him with a fantasy companion, a suave older man (Alec Baldwin) who warns him he’s “walking into a propeller.” But walk this boy-man does because in Allen’s sex-charged dreams he has to. What’s wonderfully surreal about Baldwin’s scenes is that Allen doesn’t bother to make him invisible to other characters. They listen to his acid commentary and continue on their ridiculous tracks.

Source: nymag.com

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