To Rome With Love – Film Review
REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK
Saturday evening at Dendy Cinema 5 for To Rome with Love. Lots of people, a date-related crowd rather than film buffs.
The usual aspirational Dendy ads: expensive menswear, coffee, restaurants, jewellery, designer homewares and salsa lessons. Previews for The Sessions (a couple of repetitions of this one, especially William H Macy and I’m moving to a probable). Less likely for The Hobbit (aka NZ’s desperate grab for tourism relevance, Mark IV*). CGI and Martin Freeman, which is much the same thing.
Having watched Margaret and David do the soft-shoe-shuffle-with-Blunnies on it, I held out great hopes of being able to heap scorn on To Rome with Love. And it deserves some chastisement for lack of imagination and for dispersing what imagination and energy there was over a couple too many story themes. From the third row**, it looked an awful lot like tourism-by-the-numbers with Rome’s friendly citizens and well-managed traffic suggesting something less than complete objectivity. A roundup of the usual ancient ruin suspects, plus Woody Allen. But there was a bit more wit and maybe even some love in the nods to Cinecitta, the 50’s and 60’s, the bookending with Volare, the opinions of knowing local narrators and the collection of short stories exploring some common theme.
The core plots of each explored the possibility of transformation over a brief time through experience in a place of ferment. The ageing American opera director*** who cannot let go, and his spiky wife; their daughter and her fiancé; the fiancé’s parents, especially his talented but content father. The older architect**** and the student, his girlfriend and the girlfriend’s best friend; the anonymous clerk who briefly becomes someone; the young honeymooning couple with a Penelope Cruz-shaped explosion in the midst of the straight-laced relatives.
Some of this stuff could have been lost without any effect on the major narrative and maybe that would have allowed a little more depth. On the other hand, that might have created a little less room to move the action and distract the viewer from seeing where the fabric was frayed or badly joined. There are apparently poor people and ugly buildings in Rome but not in this version of it.
But the film’s Rome is beautiful and the movie will do no harm to any but the most sensitive of souls. Yes, it’s safe for my mother or yours.
On to the Tongue and Groove for a Grolsch. Then home before the young people started to take over Civic.
* – after the Lord of the Rings exercises in grandiosity. No-one ever goes to the places where they filmed Once Were Warriors. I wonder why.
** – I said there were lots of people. Most of them seemed to be enjoying it immensely and at a considerable volume.
*** – Woody Allen, showing his remarkable dramatic range by playing an opinionated neurotic, a character he has tried only about a hundred times. If he’s going to act, he should resume the style of his old, funny movies.
**** – Alec Baldwin, doing a fair job as a sort of Greek chorus though his support team just seems to disappear, raising a question of why they were there in the first place.