To Rome with Love [Blu-Ray] Woody Allen

To Rome with Love [Blu-Ray] Woody Allen
6
Woody Allen returns to Europe after the success of Midnight in Paris, this time interweaving several romantic/comedic tales set in the lovely Italian capital. The upshot is some stories work better than others, but although charming, the overall film doesn't add up. Alessandra Mastronardi and Alesssandro Tiberi play a young Italian couple on vacation in the big city who get split up and wind up in other people's arms. It's a standard Woody storyline about mixing partners to achieve self-discovery, but Penelope Cruz steals the show as a streetwise, seductive hooker. Less successful is a love triangle between uptight, young architect Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), his pleasant but bland fiancé (Greta Gerwig) and neurotic actress (think Diane Keaton in Manhattan) Ellen Page. Page plays the amoral home wrecker who threatens to destroy this yuppie couple. Even though Alec Baldwin tries his best enliven this story, we've seen this before. Woody appears as a nebbish father who discovers that his daughter's future father-in-law sings opera brilliantly — in the shower. Somehow, Woody launches his career as an opera star — cute, but light. By a Roman mile, the best story belongs to Roberto Benigni, who plays an ordinary Leopoldo who wakes up and finds himself a full-blown celebrity — chased by paparazzi, who enquire about what he ate for breakfast this morning, whether he wears boxers or briefs and which supermodel he's been bedding (poor guy). Benigni brilliantly understates his performance and the writing is smart and sharp; it's vintage Woody. This story could have been an entire movie of its own. Typical of Woody Allen, this Blu-Ray offers the barest of bonus features. Woody's sister and co-producer, Letty Aronson, guides us on a nine-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that is really a promo puff piece. We see stills (not footage) of Woody on-set with actors who take turns lauding him. We learn that Woody doesn't speak a word of Italian, so he directed the Italian scenes by instinct, and that Woody allows improvisation sometimes. It's pleasant, but slight. (Sony)