Friday, September 07, 2012

To Rome, With Love

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 7th September, 2012 (India)
Time : 111 minutes
Director, Writer : Woody Allen; Music : Uncredited but lovely mix of opera, Italian love songs and jazz
Starring : Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Greta Gerwig, Fabio Armiliato, Flavio Parenti, Roberto Benigni, Alison Pill, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz

The following review is best read to the lyrics of Volare

‘Volare oh oh
Cantare oh oh oh oh
Nel blu dipinto di blu
felice di stare lassu’

One of those films where nothing of note happens yet a funny, biting commentary on human existence is delivered through its varied unconnected characters, based in or visiting the Eternal City.

“I would do anything to spend the night with Howard Roark,”
(Scoffing) “You saw the movie of The Fountainhead”

Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig are happily together, when Greta’s best friend, Ellen Page, an out of work actress who’s recently been through a break up, arrives to stay with them on a visit.

"I don't want to do it here."
"You're going to screw your best friend's boyfriend, does it really matter what the venue is?"
"You will never understand women."
"That's been proven..."

Alec Baldwin, plays this part imaginary, part real character, who’s a successful, famous architect, had lived in Rome during his younger days, and decides to give the benefit of his experience in the matters of the heart to young Jesse, who’s also studying architecture.

“Its better to sleep with him and regret it than to not sleep with him and regret that”

Alessandro has just arrived in Rome, from his nearby small town, along with his lovely wife, Alessandra. He is of nervous disposition, constantly worrying if he is doing the right thing, wondering if he will make the right impression on his uncles and aunts who have employed him. Things take a slightly different path when Alessandra gets lost on the streets of Rome and Penelope Cruz, a hooker, lands up in his room, thanks to a case of mistaken identity.

During the Museum Tour, describing the ceiling frescoes “Can you imagine working all that time on your back?”
Penelope (The Prostitute) “I can.”

In a fascinating commentary of todays now there, now forgotten celebrity culture, a highly opinionated, ordinary, middle-class clerk, Roberto Benigni suddenly becomes a celebrity. The questions he is asked, his replies, their interpretation, the perks of stardom and how he copes with it all is worthy of a PhD thesis by itself.

“I have an IQ of 140, 160.”
“Your thinking in euros, in dollars its much less”

And in the most amusing of cases, Alison Pill meets Flavio while asking for directions, falls in love and decides to get married. It gets very entertaining once her parents, Judy Davis, a psychiatrist and Woody Allen, a quixotic, retired Recording studio executive arrive and meet their prospective in-laws, Fabio, who’s a mortician who loves to sing opera in his shower cubicle and his wife, who doesn’t speak much English but can be fiercely protective of her family.

“The kid’s a communist, the father’s a mortician, does the mother run a leper colony?”

Love is one of the dominant themes, the sexual chemistry between people another. The fickle and inane nature of todays media gets considerable screen time, along with the various perks of modern stars. The ability of American’s to try anything for money is well contrasted with the slightly leftist nature of most Italians. Italy is also one of the few countries, along with India (and maybe, Japan ?), which is full of bathroom singers and also, like most of Europe, men take pride in their mistresses.

“You're lucky ! In a year she would've had you adopting Burmese orphans”

Loved the brand of humour, the seemingly aimless, meandering plot, the various character sketches. I don’t know whether it was the pleasure of listening to the lyrical Italian language again, or seeing the beautiful streets, which are simply made for walking, or just our nostalgia for the country and our friends there, but felt transported to another world while it lasted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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