The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

The people at the tourist board should rejoice

with 19 comments

Woody Allen continues his European tour. Last year it was Paris; this year it’s Rome. I wonder what’s up next. There is a rumor that Stockholm has been up for consideration.

Obviously this tickles me, being a Swede myself, and yet I’m vaguely bothered by the idea. If Allen shoots a film in Sweden I want him to do it for the right reasons. I just don’t buy this thing about recording films at popular tourist destinations, which you then include in the title. It just sounds unlikely that this could be driven by pure artistic reasons, and that those stories just “happened” to take place in Barcelona, Paris and Rome. “To Rome With Love” is not what I’d call a proper title; it’s a shameless advertisement for the Italian Tourist Board.

Maybe I’m a bit unfair. After all I’ve never objected against James Bond travelling to the most ridiculous places. But right or wrong, I still cling to the idea of Allen being a passionate filmmaker rather than a calculating businessman.

Like a postcard
To Rome With Love consists of four stories, which have nothing to do with each other apart from taking place in the same city. It makes me think of one of those postcards that are for indecisive people like me, who can’t decide for which of the views of Rome that represents it best, so we take one with a split frame and get four in-in-one. The postcard comparison is also relevant in way they’ve put up the camera. I’ve never been to Rome myself, but according to a friend who has been there, the film shows all the essential places to go on a tourist trip to Rome. A coincidence?

Not too much should be revealed about the plot. I’ll just say the stories are funny and I laughed quite a bit – more than I recall laughing at Midnight in Paris last year.

The cast is as impressive as ever. Working with Allen seems to be the wet dream of every Hollywood actor.

However there is a problem that I can’t quite get around: all the four films within the film are a bit slight. The carrying joke in every storyline is fun at first sight, but it doesn’t hold up to being stretched out thin to fit the full-length format. I imagine they’d improve a lot if they were cut down, in one of the cases to as little as five or ten minutes. They’re short film material. But again: very few people are prepared to buy a theatre ticket to watch short films, regardless of how motivated it might be from an artistic point of view, so in reality it’s not an option.

My biased view
All in all I enjoyed the film a great deal more than I had imagined considering the pretty negative buss surrounding it.

It should be said though I’m probably a little bit biased. The circumstance that I’m going to Rome for a vacation trip in November, might have bumped my rating of the film with 0,5, if not more. I just couldn’t shut of the siren song of the city. And in that manner I suppose the film is working as intended.

The people at the tourist board should rejoice.

To Rome With Love (Woody Allen, US, 2012) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

September 3, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Posted in To Rome With Love

19 Responses

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  1. I dunno if I will bother with this one. Something about Allen films that annoy me… I know, I should be shot.

    • I forgive you. 🙂
      I can understand that his movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve watched his movies since as long back as I can remember and loved most of them.


      September 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

  2. Allen’s (late) films take place in a certain setting: The main characters have a certain style, education, money (or at least live in a world where money is no real, existential problem). The movies take place in big cities that still have character, romantic spots, history, enough people for complex interaction and to dive into the mass, are attractive. No wonder those are touristic spots. I can’t imagine a (full) Allen movie take place in a small town, even if it is attractive (say Visby) or in a big city where his characters don’t fit in (say Berlin; should the characters get drunk at foreign exchange student parties and stroll through the artificial, dead downtown?).

    That said, I think Stockholm would be a great fit. It still would be sad if the reason for this European tour and the choice of locations would be the support by locale authorities.

    Your depiction of “To Rome With Love” instantly reminded me of “Night On Earth”…


    September 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    • To be fair I don’t know if the choice of cities is done purely by who’s giving the best offer. But there is a nagging suspicion in my backhead. As of me I wouldn’t mind if he stayed faithful to New York. I just never grow tired of that setting.


      September 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

  3. ‘To Glasgow With Love’ next? Maybe? Doubt it right enough ;-). Nice post Jessica. I will check this out but I won’t be rushing to it.

    Mark Walker

    September 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    • Edinburgh is more picturesque though, right? 😉


      September 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      • Indeed Jessica. I mentioned this a while back in my review of the animated film The Illusionist. (shameless plug)
        Glasgow is more welcoming though, if that counts? I mean, ABBA even mention it in one their songs. 😉

        Mark Walker

        September 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm

        • Plug on! I’m afraid I’ve only seen the railway station of Glasgow as I was passing through. But I visited Edinburgh last summer and fell in love with it. I now consider it one of the most beautiful cities in the world, along with New York, Paris and Visby.


          September 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm

          • I too love Edinburgh Jessica. It’s a marvellous city. I just feel that Glasgow gets overshadowed when it actually has more to offer. We don’t have the site seeing but we do have the culture. Strictly speaking, I just love my country LOL.

            Mark Walker

            September 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm

            • Rightfully so. I’ve only been to Scotland once, but I’d sure like to return and explore more of it. I’ve just had a little sip of it yet.


              September 4, 2012 at 11:52 pm

              • Due to our (heavy) drinking culture. A little sip is never enough. 😉
                Speaking of which, do have a culture or way of life that involves “hutting”?
                I mentioned before about my cabin in the hills but I hear that Scandavavia have been doing it for years?

                Mark Walker

                September 4, 2012 at 11:57 pm

                • I’m not quite sure of what you mean with “hutting”, but if you refer to people having small and very simple cottages where they go for their summer vacation: yes, that’s very common. On the whole I believe Swedes love to spend time near or in the nature. If you mention to people from other countries that you like to take walks in the forest, they will give you strange looks. But here it’s pretty normal, even though I have the feeling that the younger generations are getting more prone to stay in the cities.


                  September 5, 2012 at 12:02 am

                  • That’s exactly what I’m talking about Jessica. It’s always been a thing in Scotland as well and like you say, the younger generation take if for granted. In Scotland we call them “huts” but basically its a house in the country built by many people by their own hands. Apparently there are people willing to exchange “huts” over from countries that will allow them a holiday home for a short time in others’ environments. I’m looking into this at present as I’d love to visit other areas. Anyway, I’m taking over your thread here Jessica. I apologise but thanks for the info. 😉

                    Mark Walker

                    September 5, 2012 at 12:11 am

      • When I wrote my comment I had a list of candidate cities in mind. Edinburgh had a top position on this list. Other cities would be Dublin or St. Petersburg. But some cities I ruled out; in my view they don’t have the right “mix”. Glasgow is a very nice town now, much better than its reputation. But the picturesque part is missing. It is not a city to fall in love with at the first glance, which is more easily possible with the other cities. Belfast, Berlin, Moscow… all have their respective interesting and nice parts, but are all missing the last important bit to fit into the series.

        Leaves one question: Am I pigeonholing Allen or is he doing it himself lately? Of course it would be great if he breaks out and does something stylistic different; but it doesn’t look so for me. Or maybe it is just my biased view of those cities, that could change dramatically if they are presented in the right way by the director.


        September 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

        • Well I can’t help thinking he’s got the tourist glasses on. And maybe that’s the very point of it, they show Americans touristing Europe. But… how many films do you want to do with that as a base? I don’t know. As much as I love Allen I’m not sure I want this tour to last endlessly.


          September 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm

  4. Haven’t seen this yet, but I’m interested in checking it out. I’ve slowly started to like Allen movies more than I used to…


    September 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

    • Great to hear. While this won’t become one of his classics, there are so many of his earlier films that I really love deeply. Maybe it takes a little time to get accustomed to him and learn to love his style.


      September 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm

  5. I don’t know if he’s deliberately setting his films in European cities. I don’t think his goal is to make advertising for Barcelona, Paris and Rome, to be honest. If it is, it doesn’t really bother me. I liked VCB a lot, loved Midnight in Paris. The weakest is TRWL. It’s a mess, honestly. I think the Penélope Cruz storyline is the only one that worked.


    September 10, 2012 at 1:22 am

  6. […] To Rome with Love – which by no means was one of Allen’s strongest movies. Stories that would have been perfect for five minute short films were drawn out more than what were healthy for them. Still: I had a few good laughs at some of the ideas and for the sake of my old and persisting Allen love, this movie gets a little nod from me. […]

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