To Rome with Love is sort of hostile to its viewer. Allen sets up three (or four, depending on how you want to count) plots and plays them all concurrently. However, these three (or four) plots don’t necessarily coexist in the same Rome, certainly not at the same time they linearly play out in the run time. He’s also a little dishonest in how he introduces them–Alec Baldwin’s plot gets a big introduction but it immediately shifts gears.
Wait, there are four plots. I keep losing count….
There’s Alison Pill as a young American tourist. Allen and Judy Davis play her parents. Allen and Davis are great together, in case I forget to mention later. Davis just sits and watches him, with real laughs at his deliveries.
Then there’s Alec Baldwin, who gets entangled in Jesse Eisenberg’s love triangle with Greta Gerwig and Elliot Page (playing a girl here).
Alessandra Mastronardi and Alessandro Tiberi are honeymooners. Penelope Cruz figures in at some point.
And then Roberto Benigni is the example of the middle class Roman.
Okay, there are four plots. There are sort of five.
Anyway… the best ones are the Tiberi and Mastronardi one and the Benigni one. Or, as one might say, the Roman ones.
Pill’s not in her story enough, though it’s fairly charming.
The one with Eisenberg misfires. He’s ineffectual, Page’s woefully miscast (not because he’s playing a girl), and Gerwig’s great but underutilized.
Allen experiments with narrative here… and doesn’t seem to like the results.
Rome… and gorgeous Darius Khondji photography help a lot.