Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: To Rome with Love (2012)

I tend to see the majority of Woody Allen's movies in the theatres. And I have no idea why. Let's do some math. On average, I find about 60% of his annual offerings to be good. Solid films but definitely not classics; I never feel horrible for having dropped ten bucks but I still feel like I could have waited or not watched them at all. But I go because of the 5-10% that are damn near classics. This is not Annie Hall of course, but it's another extremely solid effort (call it a low 7) that will help you wash the taste of the vastly overrated Midnight in Paris out of your mouth (a real bomb among the ~30% of his total stinkers; possibly my least favorite Woody Allen picture ever). I didn't 'need' to see To Rome with Love last night but it was a fun and surprisingly thought-provoking 100 minutes nonetheless.

What's strange is that, despite the weird amount of accolades Paris accrued, Woody, it seems, came to realize its true suckitude (as he's 'corrected' all/most of that movie's flaws with this one). For instance, where Paris was deeply lacking in terms of theme (or depth of theme), Rome (while equally as dumb, and more convoluted on the surface) actually has interesting things to say about a variety of issues, all of which overlap in a neat, non-obvious way

I levied harsh criticism at Paris. Not to be contrarian, though. Of Woody's recent 'foreign' films, I've greatly enjoyed all save last year's hugely popular effort (his highest grossing movie of all-time wtf!) and Cassandra's Dream (which I never saw because Colin Farrell + Woody = No? maybe).

Noted Woodyhead (and Parrishead), Will Leitch wrote, "Midnight In Paris was about Paris's timelessness and its relation to Allen's nostalgia obsession … To Rome With Love is mostly concerned with fame, or, to tie into Rome itself, one's legacy and impact on the world." He's not wrong on any point there. Paris was certainly about nostalgia, just executed in the most overt and corniest way possible. Rome is definitely about all three of those things, but again, only on the surface. I would say a deeper theme is one's sense of self in the moment. What's bigger than our relationship with consciousness and concrete reality? And to frame that within the scope of four unrelated vignettes? That's actually pretty genius.

SCORE: 7/10

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