Try as it might, Allen's latest is hardly a Roman holiday
The relationship between study-abroad students Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) and Sally (Greta Gerwig) is complicated when her seductive actress friend (Ellen Page) shows up; Alec Baldwin plays a visiting architect who, for no apparent reason, acts as their omnipresent adviser à la the Bogart ghost in 1972's Play It Again, Sam.
Worst of all is an utterly stupid non-story in which Roberto Benigni — who doesn't need to imitate Woody because he's already annoyingly mannered enough — plays an ordinary family man suddenly treated, and paparazzi-hounded, as a celebrity. There's no explanation for this, and the presumably intended spoof of meaningless media fascinations famous-for-being-famous folk is so cluelessly handled you wonder if Allen was having a senior moment while writing it.
At the beginning a stereotypical traffic-directing polizia tells the camera directly that he sees all of Rome pass by and knows all their stories. At the end, he tells us there are plenty more where the ones we've just seen came from. Pretty as it's been to look at, after 112 barely chuckle-prodding minutes of To Rome With Love that sounds very much like a threat.
TO ROME WITH LOVE opens Fri/29 in San Francisco.
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