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» The New Yorker Review - To Rome with Love

That’s Amore
by David Denby, published on June 27, 2012

Woody Allen’s new movie, “To Rome with Love,” is light and fast, with some of the sharpest dialogue and acting that he’s put on the screen in years. The picture gently but surely moves back and forth between romantic comedy and satirical farce. There are thirteen major characters and several minor ones. Allen, now seventy-six, revisits some of his old ideas and devices, but he keeps moving ahead. He appears in the film, as a grouchily retired opera director, and Judy Davis, who plays his psychiatrist wife, says to him, “You equate retirement with death.” The film is an old man’s rejection of mortality. In recent years, Allen has become a passionate pilgrim. Mentions “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris.” “To Rome with Love” is set in the present. A genial traffic cop, standing in the Piazza Venezia, introduces the characters and their stories: the opera director and his wife; a newlywed couple from the provinces (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi) just arriving in Rome; a well-known American architect (Alec Baldwin) on vacation; an ordinary middle-class Roman (Roberto Benigni) living with his family. New characters are added, and we puzzle over the possible connections among the narratives, but, at the plot level, there aren’t any. The tales don’t even take place in the same time frame. Yet the moods and the elements of the visual scheme are matched so elegantly that the transitions feel effortless. The young couple gets separated. The man falls into the expert hands of a call girl (Penelope Cruz). His wife meets a movie star. Baldwin’s architect meets an early version of himself—an architecture student (Jesse Eisenberg), who takes him home to meet his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig). They are joined by an unemployed American actress (Ellen Page), who rapidly pulls the man away from his girl. Page gives a restrained but brilliantly satirical performance as an intellectual and emotional faker. She’s one of the greatest of Allen’s female creations. “To Rome with Love” is devoted to dreamers and seekers. The only crime imaginable in this movie is the unwillingness to take a chance.

Source: www.newyorker.com

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