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?"
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 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.