With Love, but without feeling.
After a surprising resurgence in 2011 with the triumphant Midnight in Paris, renowned romantic comedy director Woody Allen returns to cinemas with another venture in Europe. The once great director’s unique filmmaking approach typically balances wit and satire with an indulgent personal sentiment, often in the form of a love letter to a city.
In a similar way in which the French capital was treated – with the ceaseless romanticism that was celebrated in his earlier, New York set masterpieces; typified by glorious cinematography and iconic locations – Allen employs an ensemble cast of impressive talent in a multi-faceted narrative to express the variety and quality of life within the eternal city. However, each vignette, whether it’s the smug condemnation of celebrity culture or the wafer thin shotgun romance, is so painfully underwritten, drawn out and distant from each other that they never once cohere.
Unfortunately, neither the cast’s performances (save for brief highlights from Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni and Allen himself) nor Allen’s direction matches the expected quality of his previous films. To Rome with Love is certainly charming and sporadically entertaining, but desperately flawed and severely unfulfilling. Where Midnight in Paris was a glorious return to form, Allen’s latest film is a crushing disappointment that will leave audiences questioning the legitimacy of his resurgence.