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To Rome with Love(2012)
A story about a number of people in Italy, some from the US, some Italian, some residents, some visitors, and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.
For more about To Rome with Love and the To Rome with Love Blu-ray release, see To Rome with Love Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, PenÚlope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Woody Allen
» See full cast & crew
To Rome with Love Blu-ray Review
On Blu-ray with love.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 20, 2013
In this city, all is a story.
Yes, Woody's still got it. The legendary Actor/Writer/Director follows up on the Oscar-winning Midnight in Paris with the not-so-demonstrably-magical but nevertheless engrossing and fun To Rome with Love, a simple, quirky, and lovable tale of four different groups of people experiencing four unique slices of life around one of the world's most beautiful cities. The film is a real charmer and perhaps the perfection of the multi-story style, not so jumbled and cluttered as Garry Marshall's recent efforts to the same. Here, none of the tales necessarily intersect, but the flow from one to another proves seamless thanks in large part to the divergent circumstances and entertaining narratives that reflect various stages of life. It's supported by a faultless cast and that typical Woody Allen appeal. There may not be a more delightful and easygoing film in the entire 2012 lineup; what To Rome with Love lacks in dramatic purpose is more than made up for by the picture's embracing of the lightly absurd and the delightful manner in which it satisfies the need for easy, whimsical cinema that will leave audiences smiling and satisfied.
American tourist Hayley (Alison Pill, The Pillars of the Earth) one day bumps into Roman lawyer Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti, I Am Love). One could say that the rest is history, but history didn't count on the inevitable meeting of the would-be in-laws. Hayley's father Jerry (Allen) is a former music industry executive hanging onto the dream of finding the next big talent. Michelangelo's father is a mortician named Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato) who possesses a remarkable singing voice -- that's only up to par while he's in the shower. Jerry wants Giancarlo to make a name for himself in the music industry, but Giancarlo only wants to sing when slathering himself with soap. Elsewhere in Rome, architect student Jack (Jesse Eisenberg, Zombieland) meets one of his heroes, an architect legend named John (Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated) who is back in Rome and in search of his old stomping grounds. It just so happens Jack lives in the same neighborhood John once called home. John is invited back for coffee where he meets Jack's girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig, Damsels in Distress) who informs them that her eccentric and sexy friend Monica (Ellen Page, Juno) is coming to town for an extended stay. Don't say that John didn't warn Jack.
Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful) may be the most average man in Rome. He's the prototypical middle-aged office grunt, living a good enough life with his wife and two kids. He's balding, chit-chats about sexy co-workers at the water cooler, and does what he must to provide for the family he loves. Suddenly, and for no reason he can discern, he's followed by a throng of reporters and cameramen and swept away into a car for a televised interview. The smallest, most insignificant details of his life -- what he ate for breakfast, how he shaves, does he wear boxers or briefs -- become the must-know issues in all of Rome's social and entertainment circles. He finds himself ravaged by press and fans everywhere he goes, adored by beautiful ladies who pay no mind to his marriage, and locked in so tight by the shroud of others that he can hardly breathe. Somewhere else in Rome, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and his new wife Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) are celebrating their honeymoon in a lavish hotel with plans to move to Rome where Antonio will land a good job with family. When Milly heads down to the lobby for a quick visit to the salon, she learns that the beauticians are booked and is directed to another establishment several blocks away. She becomes hopelessly lost, loses her phone, and eventually comes face-to-face with the most handsome movie star in Rome. Back in the hotel, Antonio unwittingly finds himself in the arms of a curvaceous prostitute named Anna (PenÚlope Cruz, Broken Embraces) who is coerced into standing in as Milly when Antonio's family barges into the hotel room and finds the two in the midst of a seemingly intimate moment.
From its foursome of plot lines and flock of characters comes a buoyant, satisfying picture made of simple people living what become temporarily extraordinary lives. A young man copes with an infatuation. Newlyweds are separated and greeted with temptation. An older couple suddenly emerges into the limelight of stardom. Elderly couples thrust together by the promise of young love try to sort out what to do about an untapped talent. Woody Allen juggles them all beautifully; each narrative feels complete even through a limited scope and timeframe because of Allen's superior scriptwriting and casting. Unlike Garry Marshall's New Year's Eve, a film in which some of the story lines felt too short (the older lady's resolutions list, the hospital patient's last wishes) or stretched too thin (the rock star trying to rekindle an old flame), To Rome with Love presents everything neatly and in perfect working order, every story easy to follow and each character a pleasure to know. Allen does sprinkle in a hint of the surreal and leaves one of the major elements of Jack's story open for interpretation (think of the role of Alec Baldwin's character), but otherwise tells what are fairly straightforward stories only accentuated by a hint of the absurd. That's classic Allen, here the difference being four films in one and a little bit of that magical whimsy that's been working well for him in his last two pictures.
Though Allen's work behind the camera is exemplary, To Rome with Love owes quite a bit to its wonderful ensemble, a collection of talent that breathes not just life into the characters, but a real sense of authenticity that reflects a subtle sense of stage theater -- an Allen hallmark -- and plenty of charm. Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin make for a fantastic pairing; Eisenberg hits the outwardly awkward and naive angle brilliantly, while Baldwin handles what amounts to Jack's inner voice and truth detector -- his conscience and common sense -- with a more stout and authoritative posture than Eisenberg's character hits but still with a slyly playful and honest demeanor evident on the surface. Roberto Benigni is as charming as ever as the "sudden celebrity" who finds himself a public sensation for no real discernible reason, representing the ultimate in "15 minutes of fame," a fame given to him, for lack of a better explanation, almost out of necessity to fill a quota or make true that notion that even the most invisible, routine-oriented everyman will find his time in the spotlight, even if it shines on how he shaves and what he eats for breakfast. It's the ultimate in the classic "what can you do?" notion, throwing the hands into the air and surrendering to the moment, no matter how absurd, unexpected, or surreal. PenÚlope Cruz's portrayal of a drop-dead sexy hooker plays wonderfully against the shy, quiet work of Alessandro Tiberi who must make everyone believe that the nobody can land the model. Alessandra Mastronardi delights as the literally and figuratively lost Milly. Fabio Armiliato takes the biggest chance in the film and earns a bigger reward with his honest approach to one of the silliest character arcs in recent cinema. Woody Allen gives arguably the film's finest performance; he saves many of the best lines for himself, but then again the character fits him like a glove. Nobody does "politely antagonistic" as well as Allen, a trait that defines the character and completes Allen's A+ trifecta, doing a marvelous job behind the writer's desk, on the business end of the camera, and performing in front of it all.
To Rome with Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
To Rome with Love offers audiences yet another beautiful high definition presentation from Sony. Woody Allen's latest film features a deliberately warm appearance, taking on a rather heavy reddish/golden-tinted overlay but still presenting a vast array of brilliant colors around Rome's cities. The aged architecture and modern accents alike offer mostly commonplace earthen and muted colors, while splashes of more brilliant hues appear on clothing and select scenes in which exterior greens are prominent. Details are perhaps even more stunning. That same Roman architecture looks fantastic, right down to the tiniest bit of natural aging wear; the textures almost beg to be touched. Clothing lines are supremely crisp, and facial textures are highly revealing. The image is consistently sharp and very clear, accented by a light layer of film grain. Blacks are strong and flesh tones only influenced by the film's natural tint. No signs of even minor blocking, edge enhancement, or other unwanted intrusions are present. This is a real pleasure of a transfer from Sony.
To Rome with Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
To Rome with Love arrives on Blu-ray with a highly proficient DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Generally, the track offers gentle, unassuming sorts of sonic elements, from music to ambience. The beginning of the film features light passing traffic maneuvering across, around, and through the soundstage. There's a pleasing, light din during an airport scene featuring Jack and Sally picking up Monica. The track engages in some more pronounced sound elements later on. Chapter ten features thumping bass and prominent surround activity during a fashion show, while chapter eleven offers booming thunder and steady rainfall. Music is airy and gentle, pleasant and well-defined. Clarity is top-notch, and presence is natural. Dialogue is the name of the game for this release, however, and the spoken word -- in both English and Italian -- comes through the center speaker without a hitch. This is an upper-end soundtrack that shows that even less aggressive tracks can excel on Blu-ray, too.
To Rome with Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
To Rome with Love contains only one extra of any substance.
To Rome with Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
At its most basic, To Rome with Love represents the joyous power of simple storytelling shaped by interesting and everyday but slightly off-kilter characters. The film works because it shows the quirky side of life through the eyes of a divergent collection of individuals set against one of the most alluring backdrops in the world. Add the unmistakable Woody Allen charm and the workings of a terrific ensemble cast, and it's easy to see why Allen remains not only popular but an icon both on the camera and off of it even so many years removed from his biggest cinema successes. To Rome with Love shows that there's quite a bit of magic left in the tank; here's hoping for many more new Woody Allen films in the years to come. Sony's Blu-ray release of To Rome with Love features sparkling video and audio. Only one extra of real value is included, but don't hold out for a special edition; this is pretty much as good as it gets for an Allen home video release. Very highly recommended.
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