'To Rome With Love': Eternal City, Scrambled Time | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

'To Rome With Love': Eternal City, Scrambled Time

Play associated audio

For four decades, Woody Allen's been churning out movies at a rate of almost exactly one film per year, a phenomenon that I'd describe as being "like clockwork" if my whole sense of time hadn't been scrambled by his latest comedy, To Rome With Love.

Pleasantly scrambled, but still.

Why? Well, there are four unrelated stories taking place — apparently simultaneously: one about a retired American opera director (Allen) who discovers singing talent on a trip to see soon-to-be in-laws; one about Italian newlyweds and the prostitute (Penelope Cruz) who comes between them; one about an Italian clerk (Roberto Benigni) who suddenly becomes famous for no reason at all; and one about a romantic triangle (Jesse Eisenberg torn between girlfriend Greta Gerwig and her best bud, Ellen Page), with a spare wheel (Alec Baldwin, kibitzing from the sidelines even though he's mostly not actually there).

The thing is, even though Allen cuts between these stories as if they're all happening at once, logically they can't be. The opera director's story, which involves staging a full production of Pagliacci, would have to take place over several months. The newlyweds' story, meanwhile, only makes sense if it all happens in a single afternoon.

And nobody so much as refers to any of this. It's so offhand as to suggest the director didn't even think about making the pieces fit together. Except that he has to have thought about it to make them fit together so smoothly, from an undertaker's being overheard while singing in the shower to the pleasure of a kiss that wrecks a relationship.

To Rome with Love is just froth — a romantic sampler with some decent jokes and gorgeous Roman backdrops. It goes down easily, but I have to say it's interesting less for what it is than for how it is. Allen's playing-around-with-time thing, coming right after his characters in Midnight in Paris engaged in time travel, suggests that the filmmaker, at age 78, is hearing the ticking of the clock in complicated ways.

And playful ways. Yes, time flies ... and it runs out. But for whatever reason, time doesn't seem to be weighing on Woody Allen.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

She is one of the first cartoonists to be recognized. Besides her graphic novels and memoirs, Bechdel developed a simple three-question test for how women are represented in films.
NPR

Sweet: Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme Pump Up Pledge On Palm Oil

Two major doughnut chains have bowed to consumer pressure to better police their palm oil purchases. Environmentalists say it's a win for consumers, trees and animals.
NPR

Congress Quietly Extends The Budget — Past Election Day, Anyway

Since the GOP retook the House, the chamber once brought the country to the brink of a debt default and once shut down the government. But in election years, including this one, there's no such drama.
NPR

Look, Mom, I Finally Made It To Broadway!

NPR's Michel Martin will sit down with a panel of award-winning playwrights to ask about diversity in theater. Follow here or join us on Twitter on Friday at 7 p.m. ET, using #NPRMichel.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.