Perhaps it is because Hollywood is known to rehash the same material over and over again, and I am old enough to remember watching that particular show back in the day.
But Woody Allen’s unique screenplay is nothing like the sappy television series. It also wasn’t the working title of the film, but Allen changed it at the last minute because he didn’t think people would understand “The Bop Decameron”, a reference to a collection of medieval novellas.
Nevertheless, the film is part of the writer/director’s extended European vacation of films, which also included Barcelona (Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona), London (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), and Paris (Midnight in Paris).
“To Rome with Love” tells four stories, all sprinkled with love and humor and each one focusing on a different aspect: the passionate love of a new relationship, the reflection of love lost, the seduction of love and fame, and the innocence and curiosity of inexperienced newlywed love. Kudos to Allen for allowing each imaginative story to breath on its own, and for not intertwining them neatly together at the end of the movie. That was a happy surprise.
The all-star cast includes a few Allen regulars such as Judy Davis, whom I call the female Woody Allen and Penelope Cruz, along with a list of Italian actors led by Roberto Benigni, and Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page.
The great city of Rome is also a shining star, and Allen makes it appear absolutely breathtaking. The Eternal City is one I want to visit during my lifetime, and “To Rome with Love” makes me want to go sooner rather than later. Yet it’s strange that many who have visited Italy have told me that the cities outside of Rome are much nicer. If that is the case, they must be absolutely spectacular.
Even if you don’t care for Woody Allen because of his personal choices in life – and I know several people who feel that way – there is no denying the man is an incredible talent and has been entertaining audiences with his offbeat neurotic style for nearly 50 years. And that holds true for “To Rome with Love” even though quite a few critics report that it isn’t one of Allen’s best; but that is only because there are so many great films to choose from in his body of work. The film is often silly, but I laughed, and it also seems far-fetched at times, but I bought into it. So, even though it is not “great”, it is a pleasure to see and hear, and it’s certainly worth the price of an admission ticket.
On a side note, a graphic artist friend pointed out many years ago that Woody Allen uses the same font created especially for him for all of his movies’ credits. I look for that now in each of his movies, and it still holds true.