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Early Reviews: Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love' Falls Short of 'Midnight in Paris,' Does Not Please Romans

by Maggie Lange
April 20, 2012 11:09 AM
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To Rome with Love

Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love," his love letter to the eternal city, has not pleased the natives. It seems he misjudged the zeitgeist. Many Italian critics thought his glossy postcard view of Rome did a disservice to the hard economic times the city faces.  Early reviews below. 

"To Rome With Love" opens in Rome with in Italian; Sony Pictures Classics will open it stateside in English in June after it opens the LA Film Festival on June 14.  The movie stars Allen, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg, and Ellen Page.


Several complained that Allen's Rome is the one foreigners have in their mind's eye even before setting foot here. And it's a vision filtered through the prism of the 1 percent — the characters lodge in grandiose baroque-style rooms in five-star hotels and enjoy grand vistas from terraces the average Roman can only dream about.
Paolo d'Agostini of La Repubblica quipped, "Can you imagine a Roman traffic cop living in an apartment overlooking the Spanish Steps?"

The Washington Post

Woody Allen is presenting his latest film “To Rome with Love” in the city that inspired it, but some hometown critics are grumbling that the American director’s new movie leans too hard on old stereotypes.
Allen told journalists Friday in the Italian capital that Americans think of Italy as an “enormously warm ... easygoing place to live.”
That assessment of Italy, which is now enduring economic austerity measures, sparked objections from some Italians at Friday’s screening, with one contending it was superficial. Only Italian journalists were invited to the screening.

The Hollywood Reporter

The day’s events -- which included a press screening of the film, a news conference with Allen and the other stars and an evening gala premiere to raise money for charity -- were carefully scripted, which helped compensate for mixed reviews of the film from the Italian press. Much of the critical comments, however, were about what one questioner called Allen’s "superficial" portrayal of Rome, something the filmmaker said missed the point.
"I give you my own interpretation of Rome in the film, and I don’t pretend to have any insights about the culture or the politics,” he said. “We set out to make a film set in Rome that's entertaining to watch, and that’s what we did."


Most reports have said the the ensemble piece received mixed reactions, with many journalists complaining that Allen's treatment of the city was too superficial and romantic. In light of Italy's current economic and structural woes, I get that maybe the Italian press doesn't want to see a light, sunny romp through a tourist version of Rome. On the other hand, Allen does this with every movie he makes anywhere.


  • Me | June 4, 2012 6:31 PMReply

    Honestly, Woody Allen, as a director, rarely concerns himself with the sort of realism those critics seem to be trying to locate in this movie. Allen's characters have consistently been very upper class, very white and very, very superficial. I don't personally think that's a flaw, though-- I think Allen picks pretty, rich people to talk about and fabulous places to set his stories in and, what the heck, I suppose that's his prerogative. I'm not a fan, but I don't loathe his more recent work.

    The Italians' reaction to the movie is typical of people who analyze American/foreign productions set in their home country. I'm Brazilian and I've seen similar reactions from critics when movies like "The Incredible Hulk" and "Fast Five" came out... not to mention other countless productions that pretend to take place in Brazil, but often sin even more grossly in mistakenly thinking we speak Spanish or mangling the geography of the country ("Anaconda" anyone?)

    Since Allen doesn't seem to have sinned in these respects, he has merely in done what he always does: a superficial, white and Woody Allen-ish film. If you're surprised, you've clearly never seen one of his movies before.

  • md | May 31, 2012 4:12 AMReply

    italians complain too much. its a movie, duh, italians

  • Gianfranco | April 30, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    Allen showed us again his genius describing precisely the nowadays culture of lower middle class of Italy, stereotypes sex and extremely wide subculture based, manipulated by few people power holder. Many critics from italian journalists doesn't represent the opposite wide appreciation of the audience that is filling up the cinemas during these first days. So that this is the skill of Allen who revealed two Italy, totally different one by another. Well done Mr Allen and thank you.

  • Conor | April 25, 2012 10:26 PMReply

    Well you don't see woody making a film set in the housing projects of the Bronx New York either

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