To Rome With Love Blu-ray Review

Woody Allen made an incredible thirty four films in thirty five years that all had one thing in common – he never left the United States (heck, he very rarely left New York City).  In 2005 he traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to England and gave us “Match Point,” one of his best films ever.  Since then the Wood-man seems to have found a new muse in Europe, with films filmed in Spain (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA) and France (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) earning rave reviews and Oscars.  With TO ROME WITH LOVE Allen continues moving west across the continent.  And while it’s not among the best of Allen’s recent output, it has its moments.

Jesse Eisenberg and Alec Baldwin in To Rome With Love

A true ensemble piece, TO ROME WITH LOVE concentrates on several stories and characters, trying its best to incorporate them all into one story.  The various plots don’t all work (even though they are interspersed in the film none of them have anything to do with the other – this isn’t LOVE ACTUALLY) but at least, in typical Allen fashion, he has assembled an incredible cast to give it try.  In his first on-screen role in several years, Allen himself appears as Jerry, a long time music producer.  Judy Davis plays his wife, Phyllis.  They have traveled to Rome to meet the young man their daughter met on holiday and fell in love with.  Their story offers the most laughs.  It seems the young man’s father (played by the brilliant operatic tenor Fabio Armiliato) has a beautiful singing voice, which Jerry overhears while the man is in the shower.  Convinced he has found a new star Jerry offers his support.  The twist is that, like Michigan J. Frog, the famous Warner Brothers frog that would only sing in front of the man who discovered him, the man can only sing IN THE SHOWER, which makes finding an ideal booking pretty hard to do.  Other subplots include a case of mistaken identity involving a local prostitute (Penelope Cruz) and a man (Roberto Benigni) who learns that new found fame is both a pain in the bottom and fleeting.  Others in the cast include Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Alison Pill as Jerry and Phyllis’ daughter.

To Rome With Love starring Penelope Cruz

Visually the film is very straightforward.  Where Allen made the title city in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS appear almost magical, he presents Rome here as very plain.  One imagines he could have made this film in New York City with a few changes.  However I think it is the very different locales, with their distinct architecture and landscape, that have allowed Allen this second stage of his creative life, even if he didn’t begin it until he was nearly seventy years old.  That being said, I find it easy to say that pretty much ANY Woody Allen film is always worth at least one look so if you have the chance to watch TO ROME WITH LOVE I hope you take it.   Especially since his next film, BLUE JASMINE, takes him back to the Big Apple!

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  Presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio (it was 1.85:1 in theatres), the blunt, jagged architecture of Rome is beautifully captured.

Audio:  The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio5.1.  The sound is clear and bright, with even the quietest conversation delivered well.  Additional sounds, whether from a journey to the airport or a sudden thunderstorm, are mixed well and do not impede the dialogue.

Woody Allen in To Rome With Love

Like Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen does not do commentary tracks.  I’ve actually been told by one of his production managers that once a film has been released he never watches it again.  That being said, the extras included here are pretty weak.

Com Amore: A Passion for Rome (9:05):  Both the actors and filmmakers comment on the working in the city of Rome as well as working with Woody Allen.  Also included are some brief clips from the film’s premiere.

Theatrical trailer

Also included, preceding the film, is the trailer for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

OVERALL 2.5
VERDICT:
    MOVIE REVIEW
    BLU-RAY REVIEW
-/5.0
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