Italian Dalliance

5 Aug 2013: To Rome With Love (DVD, 2012, Woody Allen)

At first, liked it more than I expected to – have had growing suspicions about Allen, reading Rosenbaum and others – but enthusiasm gradually tapered off. Characters and even now the contrivances into which they’re shoehorned feel hollow and tired, everyone acts essentially the same way and has no personality beneath the jokes enacted, no emotions are permitted save the constant fizzed-out-champagne of the unchanging music. He’s hinting probably consciously at self-criticism in his construction of a glib name-dropper (Ellen Page) who leads the enchanted on until the next film presents itself at the ring of a cell phone, but if he was serious or resonant about it he might stage it in a more emphatic way. Mise-en-scène merely seems to sketch out little funny ideas (bringing the shower onstage for better singing performance, ordinary man a target of vapid paparazzi, prostitute as impromptu bride) than to establish a breathing organic space for them. Funny but superficial. (Side note: line about making love with one’s eyes evoked Before Midnight, a movie I still don’t fully like as much as I usually do Linklater’s work, perhaps, I thought, in part due to conversations [and musical cues!] drifting into Woody’s shallower part of the pool.)

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