Written by: Victoria Alexander
Weak fluff but a devastating looks at no-talent celebrities. Only the harried, suddenly anointed celebrity tale was beautifully crafted satire.
Woody Allen can’t afford to take his family to Europe, so his recent films are shot in various European capitals. Some stars are well known for not reading the script but choosing a project based on the locations.
TO ROME WITH LOVE is a stale, weary confection of four tales set in sanitized Rome.
John (Alec Baldwin) is a star architect of shopping malls in Rome with his wife and friends. He lived in Rome as a student. He meets architect student Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), who happens to live in his old apartment. Jack’s girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) has invited her best friend, actress Monica (Ellen Page) to stay with them while she is recovering from a love affair. Sally announces that Monica is a goddess. Every man falls wildly in love with her. Great I thought! Monica Bellucci is going to turn up to wreak havoc.
Wise older man John is the ghost of Humphrey Bogart chillingly hanging around telling Jack that Monica is a she-demon trapping him with quotes from W.H. Auden. Soon Jack is mesmerized just as Sally had predicted.
Then there is the bedroom farce of newlyweds Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi). Milly gets lost looking for a hairdresser and Antonio winds up in bed with a hooker, Anna (Penelope Cruz), who has gone to the wrong room. Antonio’s family suddenly arrives and finds the two seemingly in flagrante delicto, so Antonio tells them she is his wife.
Meanwhile, Milly finds her way to the filming of a movie starring Italy’s Brad Pitt, Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese). He takes a liking to her and invites her back to his room. Considering the sexual encounter an once-in-a-lifetime experience, Milly goes.
“Asked to describe any regrets she may have, Kim had one simple note: ‘Lack of privacy.’ ‘Everyone is always watching me, I’m under constant observation, everywhere I go there’s a camera following me, in the gym, when I do the shopping, and if I decide to go out without make-up it makes news throughout the world.’ The 31-year-old seems to believe, despite living largely in front of the cameras, she is misunderstood.”
Allen has spent the greater part of his life revered for his multiple talents. How painful it must be for him (as well as so many others) that instead of the vast contributions by Allen, the public is more interested in Snooki’s weight gain.
Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) is a typical Roman with a wife and two children. He is a manager who wakes up one morning besieged by paparazzi. He has become the newest obsession. His every movement is recorded and he is questioned about every meaningless gesture he makes. What did he have for breakfast? How many blueberries were in his muffin? (my nod to CASINO). Which shoe does he put on first? The entire country is amazed and enthralled with him.
Harried at first and begging to be left alone since he has not done anything to merit this kind of attention, Leopoldo is soon seduced by young women who want to have sex with him. He soon succumbs to bestowing his favors to all comers.
Retired music promoter Jerry (Allen) and his wife Phyllis (Judy Davis) are in Rome to meet their daughter, Hayley’s (Alison Pill), Italian fiancé, Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). Hayley’s soon-to-be father-in-law, Giancarlo (Fabio Armiliato), loves opera and when he takes a shower, sings beautiful arias. Jerry is convinced he can make Giancarlo a sensation. Regardless, Jerry sets up an audition and it is clear that Giancarlo needs the proper venue for his talent – a shower stall. Hilarity ensues.
The day I saw TO ROME WITH LOVE the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported this: “All this food just for her: Kim Kardashian prepares to chow down a family barbecue… and there’s more than enough buns to go around.”
The love triangle was terrible except for Baldwin’s whip-smart dialogue expertly delivered. There was absolutely nothing seductive about Page and there could have been but glorifying a woman’s appeal has never been in Allen’s wheelhouse. The newlywed’s tale was silly. And it’s interesting that the new groom may have wanted to confess his indiscretion, but not the new bride.
Only the harried, suddenly anointed celebrity tale was beautifully crafted satire.
Madonna, desperate to be relevant, whipped down her trousers and exposed her posterior onstage on Tuesday night in Rome. A few days before she showed off her one of her nipples to the crowd in Turkey. And in Milan Madonna was at it again. Dressed in a cheerleader’s uniform, the 53-year-old flashed her red briefs to the crowd at the Meazza stadium in Italy.
Madonna, showing off her body, is as embarrassing as watching your mother, in a low cut blouse without a bra, flirt with your friends. Madonna, who tours with an entourage of 200, has the ego of Henry Vlll. Who would dare tell her she’s too old for this nonsense and be banished from the court?
Victoria Alexander is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/ and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria’s weekly column, “The Devil’s Hammer,” is posted every Monday. http://www.fromthebalcony.com/editorials.php. If you would like to be included on Victoria’s private distribution list for a weekly preview, just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Victoria lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email. You can contact Victoria directly at email@example.com.