To Rome with Love (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Letty Aronson
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Narrated by||Alec Baldwin|
|Editing by||Alisa Lepselter|
|Distributed by||Medusa Distribuzione (Italy)
Sony Pictures Classics (US)
|Running time||112 minutes|
To Rome with Love is a 2012 magical realist romantic comedy film written and directed by and starring Woody Allen in his first acting appearance since 2006. The film is set in Rome, Italy; it was released in Italian theaters on April 13, 2012, and opened in Los Angeles and New York City on June 22, 2012.
The film features an ensemble cast, and Allen himself. The story is told in four separate vignettes: a clerk who wakes up to find himself a celebrity, an architect who takes a trip back to the street he lived on as a student, a young couple on their honeymoon, and an Italian funeral director whose uncanny singing ability enraptures his soon to be in-law, an American opera director.
To Rome with Love tells four unrelated stories taking place in Rome. The second story, Antonio's, is a direct lift with some amendments of an entire Fellini film, The White Sheik (1952).
American tourist Hayley falls in love with and becomes engaged to Italian pro bono lawyer Michelangelo while spending a summer in Rome. Her parents, Jerry and Phyllis, fly to Italy to meet her fiancé and his parents. During the visit, Michelangelo's mortician father Giancarlo sings in the shower and Jerry, a retired—and critically reviled—opera director, feels inspired to bring Giancarlo's gift to the public. Jerry convinces a reluctant Giancarlo to audition in front of a room of opera bigwigs, but Giancarlo performs poorly in this setting. Michelangelo accuses Jerry of embarrassing his father and trying to use him to revive his own failed career, which in turn breeds discontent between Michelangelo and Hayley.
Jerry then realizes that Giancarlo's talent is tied to the comfort and freedom he feels in the shower; Jerry stages a concert in which Giancarlo performs at the Teatro dell'Opera while actually washing himself onstage in a purpose-built shower. This is a great success, so Jerry and Giancarlo decide to stage the opera Pagliacci, with an incongruous shower present in all scenes. Giancarlo receives rave reviews, while Jerry is unaware that his direction has again been slammed as he doesn't understand Italian and so cannot read the reviews. Giancarlo decides to retire from opera singing, because he prefers working as a mortician and spending time with his family. But he appreciates being given the chance to live his dream of performing Pagliacci, and his success has mended the relationship between Michelangelo and Hayley.
Newlyweds Antonio and Milly plan to move from their rustic hometown to Rome because Antonio's posh uncles have offered him a job in their family's business. The couple checks into their hotel, and Milly decides to visit a salon before meeting Antonio's relatives for the first time. She becomes hopelessly lost and loses her cell phone, but ends up stumbling upon a film shoot where she meets Luca Salta, an actor whom she idolizes. He invites her to lunch. Back at the hotel, Antonio is worried that Milly has not returned in time for their lunch date with his aunts and uncles. Anna, a prostitute, then arrives, having mistakenly been sent to his room.
Despite his protests, she wrestles him into a compromising position just as his relatives arrive; the only way he can think to save face is to introduce Anna as Milly, and he convinces her to pose as Milly for the day. The group goes to lunch at the same restaurant where Luca takes Milly. Antonio becomes jealous as Luca flirts with Milly, but they don't see him. Antonio's uncles and aunts then take him to a fancy party. Antonio has nothing in common with the people to whom his uncles introduce him, but most of the male guests turn out to be Anna's clients. Anna and Antonio go for a walk in the garden, and Antonio talks about how pure and good Milly is. When Anna finds out he was a virgin before he met Milly, she seduces him in the bushes.
Meanwhile, Luca brings Milly to his hotel room and tries to seduce her. Milly decides to have sex with him, but then a gun-armed thief emerges from hiding and demands their valuables. Suddenly, Luca's wife and a private investigator arrive. Milly and the thief climb into bed and fool Mrs. Salta into believing the hotel room is theirs while Luca hides in the bathroom. Once his wife has left, Luca runs off. The burglar flirts with Milly and she has sex with him instead. When she returns to the hotel room, she and Antonio decide to return to their rustic hometown—but first they begin to make love.
Leopoldo lives a mundane life with his wife and two children. The best part of his day is watching his boss's beautiful secretary Serafina walk around the office. Inexplicably, he wakes up one morning to discover that he has become a national celebrity. Paparazzi document his every move. Reporters ask him what he had for breakfast, if he wears boxers or briefs, whether he thinks it will rain. Leopoldo even becomes a manager at his company, and Serafina sleeps with him. He begins dating models and attending fancy film premieres. The constant attention wears on him, though. One day, in the middle of interviewing Leopoldo, the paparazzi spot a man "who looks more interesting," and they abandon Leopoldo. At first, Leopoldo welcomes the return to his old life. But one afternoon he breaks down when no one asks for his autograph. Leopoldo has learned that life can be monotonous and wearying whether one is a celebrity or a normal man. Still, it is much better to be a weary celebrity than it is to be a weary regular man.
John, a well-known architect, is visiting Rome with his wife and their friends. John lived there some thirty years ago, and he would rather revisit his old haunts than go sightseeing with the others. While looking for his old apartment building, John meets Jack, an American architecture student who recognizes him. Jack happens to live in John's old building, and invites him up to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend Sally. (Throughout the rest of the story, John appears suddenly and inexplicably around Jack and makes unusually frank observations of events; reviewers have suggested that either John is an older mentor Jack imagines for himself, or John is reliving events from his past.) Sally tells Jack that she invited her best friend Monica, an actress, to stay with them while she recovers from a rough breakup.
According to Sally, Monica gives off a sexual vibe that drives men crazy. John predicts Monica will bring trouble, but Jack can not imagine why he would be attracted to his girlfriend's best friend. Monica arrives, and one of her first conversations with Jack is about her intense sexual relationship with a female lingerie model. Because Sally has classes, she naively asks Jack to show Monica around Rome. Monica impresses Jack with her knowledge of literature and art. Meanwhile, John keeps telling Jack that Monica will lead him to trouble and he criticizes her pseudo-intellectual facade. Even though John cautions Jack against cheating with Monica, he begins to succumb to her charms. Sally sets Monica up with Leonardo, one of their friends, and Jack is jealous of their relationship. One night he and Monica decide to cook dinner for Sally and Leonardo. They flirt more and more until Jack kisses Monica; they go down to his car to have sex.
Jack, now besotted with her, plans to leave Sally for Monica, but they decide Jack should wait until Sally finishes her midterms for Jack to break up with her. The trio go out for lunch after Sally's exams, and when they are alone, Jack tells Monica he plans to dump Sally that night. They make plans to travel to Greece and Sicily together. Then Monica gets a phone call from her agent who says she has been offered a role in a Hollywood blockbuster. She will film in Los Angeles and Tokyo for the next five months and she immediately becomes completely focused on preparing for the role. She forgets about traveling with Jack, who realizes how shallow she is. John and Jack walk back to the Roman street corner where they met and they part ways.
Grouped by storylines
- Cristiana Palazzoni (it), the TG3 anchorwoman, is a real-life journalist of the Italian network Rai 3. The scene is shot in the real TG3 studio.
- Pierluigi Marchionne, who plays a traffic policeman in the initial sequence, is a real Rome policeman. Woody Allen saw him directing traffic in Piazza Venezia and added that scene for him to be in.
The idea to produce To Rome with Love came from an offer from distributors from Rome who offered to finance a film for Allen, as long as it was filmed in Rome, which he accepted due to his desire to both work in Rome and "opportunity to get the money to work quickly and from a single source". The four vignettes featured in the film were based on ideas and notes he had written throughout the year before he wrote it. The vignettes featured in the film deal with the theme of "fame and accomplishment", although Allen stated that he didn't intend for them to have any thematic connection. He initially named the film Bop Decameron, a reference to the 14th century book by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio, but several people didn't understand the reference, so he retitled it Nero Fiddles. The new title was still met with confusion, so he settled on the final title To Rome with Love, although he has stated that he hates this title.
To Rome with Love was a box office success. As of November 15, 2012, it has earned $16,685,867 in the United States making it the seventh highest-grossing film in the 21 year history of Sony Pictures Classics.
The film has generally received mixed reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 43% based on reviews from 165 critics with an average score of 5.4/10. The critical consensus is that "To Rome With Love sees Woody Allen cobbling together an Italian postcard of farce, fantasy, and comedy with only middling success." Metacritic gives the film an average score of 55 out of 100, and thus "mixed or average reviews", based on eighteen professional critics. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4 writing "To Rome With Love generates no particular excitement or surprise, but it provides the sort of pleasure he seems able to generate almost on demand."
A. O. Scott of The New York Times found some of the scenes "rushed and haphazardly constructed" and some of the dialogue "overwritten and under-rehearsed", but also recommended it, writing "One of the most delightful things about To Rome With Love is how casually it blends the plausible and the surreal, and how unabashedly it revels in pure silliness." On the other hand, David Denby of The New Yorker thought the film was "light and fast, with some of the sharpest dialogue and acting that he’s put on the screen in years."
- A. O. Scott (June 21, 2012). "When in Rome, Still an Anxious New Yorker". The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- "Sony Classics Acquires Woody Allen's 'Nero Fiddled'". December 21, 2011.
- "To Rome With Love". Variety. June 15, 2012.
- "To Rome With Love". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (June 27, 2012). "To Rome with Love". Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- "Woody Allen's To Rome With Love Draws Mixed Response in Italy at World Premiere", The Hollywood Reporter, April 13, 2012
- Dana Stevens (June 22, 2012). "To Rome With Love". Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "Greta Gerwig, Alison Pill Join Woody Allen Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- "Woody Allen chiama un vigile (vero) sul set del suo The Bop Decameron" by Carlotta De Leo (print version, full version), Corriere della Sera, 22 July 2011 (Italian)
- Eisenberg, Eric (June 22, 2012). "Woody Allen Explains Why Annie Hall And Hannah And Her Sisters Were Disappointments". Cinema Blend. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "Woody Allen dislikes own films, but won't retire". Hindustan Times. June 26, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
- "To Rome with Love". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- "To Rome with Love". Metacritic. April 25, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
- Denby, David (July 2, 2012). "That's Amore: To Rome with Love". The New Yorker. pp. 84–85. Retrieved 2012-06-27.
- Official website
- To Rome With Love at the Internet Movie Database
- To Rome With Love at AllMovie
- To Rome With Love at Rotten Tomatoes
- To Rome With Love at Metacritic
- To Rome With Love at Box Office Mojo
- To Rome With Love at The Numbers
- "Ellen Page And Greta Gerwig". On Point. June 19, 2012.
- Dave Itzkoff (June 15, 2012). "That's Amore: Italy as Muse". The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2012.