To Rome with Love (Blu-ray)

January 15, 2013 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Of all the movies I’ve seen, there are certain filmmakers out there that will always draw me in.  I’m talking of the Scorceses’, P.T. Anderson’s and Quentin Tarantino’s of the world.  Granted the name Woody Allen is about as synonymous with filmmaking as any of those fine gentlemen and Allen has  a “love him or hate him” mantra about him that’s pretty self-explanatory.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate Woody Allen films, a few of his movies, namely Annie Hall, Manhattan and last year’s Midnight in Paris are works of art.  And then there are others that are just…there.  After watching Midnight in Paris, which was nominated for Best Picture, I was eagerly anticipating his next work.  I’m willing to bet many were.  And so we have To Rome with Love.  Can Allen do the impossible and follow up his Academy Award nominated film with another?  Let us find out…

The movie is essentially four smaller stories that seem to fade in and out of one another with relative ease.  There’s the story of Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a young architecture student studying in, you guessed it, Rome. He runs into John (Alec Baldwin), a famous American architect who seemingly has the ability to appear at will and offer Jack advice on pretty much everything.  Jack’s girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) has a friend come into town (Ellen Page) that might be the eventual undoing between the two.  Moving on we find everyman Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) a man who literally becomes famous overnight and no one, especially he,  really knows why.  His every move is photographed and he’s interviewed from shaving to what he had for breakfast.  There’s also the story of Hayley (Allison Pill), a tourist in Rome who literally meets the man of her dreams in Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti).  Her parents, played by Woody Allen and Judy Davis, go through the motions as to what might be involved.  Finally there’s the story of Antonio (AlessandroTiberi), a newlywed who is surprised when a pre-paid escort (Penelope Cruz) crashes his room only for his relatives to believe that these two are married (they’re of course, not).

I’m not opposed to having multiple story lines in films and sometimes, when done correctly, it can really work.  Unfortunately with To Rome with Love, there just seems to be a few missing elements here.  I’m all for suspension of disbelief and we have to do that with some of Allen’s movies.  But for me there were just too many things that seemed to not really connect and that made it a pretty dull film to watch.  Let me say, however, that this IS a Woody Allen movie and there are stars galore who all do well in their respective roles.  Maybe one of the things I enjoyed about Midnight in Paris was the fact that Allen wasn’t actually in it.  He’s back in his full neurotic New York self which, undoubtedly, many love but it’s just not for me.  There are those that love everything Allen does and then there are those who only like a few and I’m one of the latter.  Suffice it to say if it’s a Woody Allen film you’re after – you’ve come to the right place.

Video: How does it look?

To Rome with Love comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 AVC HD transfer that really shows off the beauty of one of the world’s most lovely cities.  The first thing that struck me was that the image seemed to be basket in earthy, warm tones.  All of the characters, it seemed, had been out in the sun and with the exception of Allen, had a very bronze look and feel to them.  The brownish hues of the city looked good and though a bit soft in some scenes, detail was fairly impressive.  While I noticed no trouble with the black levels or contrast, colors appears bright and vivid.  Truly an ode to the city, To Rome with Love is nearly like a living work of art, visually speaking.

Audio: How does it sound?

Woody Allen’s films have finally gotten with the times as a DTS HD Master Audio track is included with this Blu-ray.  Having seem a number of Woody Allen films, most of which are presented in mono, this is a nice change of pace.  As one might imagine, the majority of the film is smothered in dialogue (a staple of any Allen film), though I did rather enjoy some of the cut scenes which featured a very jazzy, upbeat little tune.  There’s not a lot of action going on in the surrounds, but they occasionally spit out a few things for the slightest bit of ambiance.  Don’t expect a whole lot, but this is a charming little track that’s got a bit more to it than meets the eye, er…ears.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Allen’s movies have never been big on supplements and this is no exception.  We find an included featurette “Con Amore: A Passion For Rome” which features some cast and crew interviews, though Allen himself is notably absent.  The original theatrical trailer is also shown as well as those for some other Sony titles.

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