To Rome with Love

COMEDY; 1hr 52min

STARRING: Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni 

Faking it: Tiberi and Cruz

Writer-director Woody Allen has a ball playing with stories that capture seductive angles of the Eternal City. It’s fun to see him onscreen again, twitching and moaning as retired opera director Jerry, in town with his self-assured psychiatrist wife, Phyllis (Judy Davis), to meet the Italian fiancé (Flavio Parenti) of their daughter Hayley (Allison Pill), and his family. 


Also playing tourist is architect John (Baldwin), who meets up with a younger version of himself (Eisenberg), smitten with the wrong girl (Page). Meanwhile, a provincial Italian couple (Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi) are faced with twin awakenings when she’s romanced by a movie star and he passes off a sultry prostitute (Cruz) as his new wife. Finally, bizarrely, nondescript office clerk Leopoldo (Benigni) is inexplicably famous overnight.


For such a cluttered schedule, the components click smoothly into place. The city is the keystone and Allen gives its electric rhythms his glowy, Manhattan–Paris treatment with featherweight intrigue that smiles indulgently at amore. Some scenes stumble and dawdle and there’s not a lot beneath the froth. Then again, when in Rome…