The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.
I’ve been curious about this movie since I first saw the trailer because it’s set in a city I seem to frequent in quite a bit when it comes to my travels. I also like the concept of telling multiple stories in a city like Rome, which holds its own as a character in itself.
As an aside, watching this movie reminds me that I still haven’t seen Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris yet–even though the blu-ray is sitting on my stack *blushes* Next movie on my to-watch list?
Contains some spoilers ahead!
The movie more or less follows four different storylines, all of which take place in Rome but are not in any way connected to each other:
- There’s Hayley (Alison Pill) & Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) who meet and fall in love in Rome. Hayley’s parents come out to visit her and meet his parents and her father (played by Woody Allen) is compelled to showcase Michelangelo’s father’s (Fabio Armiliato, a tenor in real life) singing abilities to a public audience. While I loved listening to Armiliato’s singing, the storyline sort of annoyed me if only because Woody Allen’s character just would not stop insisting that Giancarlo sing professionally. His neuroticism was endearing for like, five minutes, but then it got pretty repetitive. I was impressed that Armiliato was able to sing like that with running water and everything and I love Giancarlo’s view about the whole experience (fulfilling a dream and what is achievement in his eyes) afterwards.
- There’s John Foy (Alec Baldwin), an architect who is on vacation in Rome with his wife. He revisits old places he used to hang out around when he had lived in the city and in the process runs into Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) who is studying architecture. Jack is living with his girlfriend, Sally, whom he is perfectly contented with until her friend Monica arrives and presents some complications to Jack’s life. I think I understand the twist connection between John and Jack at the end and the way it played out was rather sad in a way. I did enjoy Alec Baldwin’s performance here; it was a little clunky at first but once you’re into the story, his interjections to Jack’s life were quite amusing and interesting.
- There’s Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni)’s story, a clerk who lives a predictable but comfortable life with his wife and children who literally becomes famous overnight. It’s a bit of a tailspin here because like Leopoldo, you’re not sure why he’s famous. I think in the end his storyline might be a commentary to the modern-day celebrity and fame in Italy. Benigni is an amusing actor and his confusion as he’s swarmed by paparazzi and the media was probably a highlight of the movie.
- Finally there’s the story of the newlyweds, Milly & Antonio (Alessandra Mastronardi & Alessandro Tiberi), who moved from their hometown to Rome in search of a more successful life. They are supposed to meet Antonio’s high-class relatives but couple become separated after Milly gets lost trying to find the nearest salon. To make matters complicated, a call girl named Anna (Penelope Cruz) shows up at their hotel room and Antonio’s relatives walk in on them at a rather compromising situation. Anna ends up having to pose as Antonio’s wife for the day while Milly ends up walking on the set of a movie and mingling with the stars. This storyline the concept of viewing women as either the saint (“the Madonna”) or the whore that’s somewhat prevalent in the culture (I heard about this a long time ago). I wish we got one last scene with Penelope Cruz’s character, I thought she was pretty funny here too (aside from Alessandro Tiberi) and it was pretty cool to see her act in Italian
I love the way this movie was filmed. I reckon a certain lens was used because it really highlights Rome in gold. I wish Woody Allen had started off the movie with shots of famous destinations in Rome like he did in Midnight in Paris (I did watch that part of the movie since it was the first two minutes of it =P) but you do get to see the places along the way. The movie is quite a travelogue that way and I personally had a lot of fun with it because I had been to almost all of the places mentioned and shown and was cracking up at far Milly had gone trying to find the salon (if you end up in Piazza del Popolo, then you ended up very far indeed). I did however wonder about the beginning sequence with the traffic conductor at Piazza Venezia; in all my times there I do not remember seeing someone directing traffic there =P
I also love that the stories were balanced out with two English-speaking stories and two Italian-speaking stories. It was personally a good practice for me (especially as I’m a bit rusty right now ;_;) but for the general audience it adds an air of authenticity to the story. It is, after all, set in Italy.
Also, the theme song to this movie was amusing…very, very amusing xD
While the overall film did not blow me away per se (the storytelling felt rather clunky at times), I did enjoy it. The performances were good though nothing really notable (though I far more enjoyed the Italian actors & Penelope Cruz’s performances over the others); I think this has more to do with the fact that we learn enough about the characters for their respective stories but nothing further, no nuance (save for perhaps John Foy’s which had a bit of mystery to his rather cynical comments). Nonetheless, I would recommend this movie if you’re looking for a varied vignette of stories set in a beautiful European city.