With To Rome with Love Woody Allen puts another stamp in his filmmaking passport in a gorgeously shot homage to the art architecture and people of the historic city. Unfortunately the film's four story lines are not created equal; jam-packing the movie with so many characters leaves them all just a little underdeveloped. The most interesting is a blossoming love affair between Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend's best friend Monica (Ellen Page). While his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig) is given short shrift in this scenario the most entertaining part is the ongoing dialogue between Jack and John (Alec Baldwin) an architect who remains delightfully mysterious. Is he simply revisiting his past and advising a young man amid a position in which he himself once found himself or is it more literal? It's hard to say but his brusque advice — "Go ahead walk into the propeller" — is always as entertaining as it's true.
As far as the other plot threads go we have the inevitable culture clash between American and Italian future in-laws; Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) a dorky normal guy who finds himself at the eye of an inexplicable media hurricane; and a newly married couple that get separated in the big city and end up learning all sorts of sexy lessons about themselves. Allen also wedges Penélope Cruz in as a prostitute who schools the young married man on the reality of the culture around him (turns out her clientele are just as if not more powerful than his uptight relatives who will determine the boy's professional future) . She's also there to wear a tight dress (Woody's yen for including random sex workers in his movies is well documented but remains baffling).
None of these characters is given enough screen time to be fleshed out which is frustrating as many (though not all) are quite interesting on their own and could even had their own feature-length stories. Instead of just one character who's acting as a proxy for Allen we get a dizzying array of them: Jack as the young and hungry Allen (Eisenberg's hyper-literate New York upbringing makes him a perfect surrogate); John as the middle-aged Allen full of regret and struck with Ozymandias melancholia in the face of such history; the young newlywed who has an opinion on everything; Leopoldo as the guy who finds the media attention aggravating and enjoyable in equal turns; Allen playing himself an older father who fears retirement just as much or more than he fears death. While it's an interesting idea in theory it's not handled dexterously enough to completely fit together.
To Rome With Love is a charming trifle that won't necessarily sate Woody fanatics but will please the Midnight in Paris crowd. It's still a better choice for theatergoers than plenty of other summer movie options.
The pair fell in love after playing Lancelot and Guinevere in the 1967 musical Camelot and had a son, Carlo, who is now 40.
They split shortly after he was born but Redgrave insists she never felt she and Nero had parted - and they decided to declare their love for one another before family and friends in 2006.
The 78-year-old actress admits she snubbed a legally binding ceremony because she didn't want to deal with "all of the money business" official unions require.
And Redgrave, who plays Nero's reunited lover in new movie Letters to Juliet, insists she feels "terribly lucky" to have enjoyed a lasting romance.
She says, "It was quite clear to us all that what we didn't want was a marriage which was legal and which has money involved. Stay clear of all that, stay clear of all the money business. Stay clear of being legally married.
"We were married in front of family and friends with the greatest possible commitment and love. I think I'm terribly lucky, terribly lucky.
"We had never really separated. We had plenty of times when we weren't speaking to each other or when we were shouting at each other. Mostly the worst times were when we were not speaking to each other."
Actress Natasha Richardson has died after suffering serious head injuries in a skiing accident. She was 45.
The Maid in Manhattan star, who was married to actor Liam Neeson, was taken to hospital in Montreal, Canada after the incident on the slopes of Mont Tremblant on Monday.
Schindler's List star Neeson rushed to her bedside at the Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal as doctors battled to save her. He flew her to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York on Tuesday, where he was joined by the actress' mother Vanessa Redgrave and close friends and family.
She was removed from life support on Wednesday morning and died hours later.
Confirming the sad news, the actress' publicist Alan Nierob tells WENN, "Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."
The daughter of late director/producer Tony Richardson and actress Redgrave, Richardson began her career in regional theatre before moving into television and film work.
Her first major movie was Ken Russell's 1986 drama Gothic, and she also notably starred in The Handmaid's Tail, Past Midnight, and 2001 comedy Blow Dry.
She also portrayed heiress and socialite-turned bank robber Patty Hearst in a biopic and played Lindsay Lohan's mum in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap.
Richardson won a string of honors during her career, including a 1999 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her turn in Cabaret on Broadway.
She also scooped the Plays and Players Best Actress in 1990, and was twice honoured with Britain's Evening Standard Film Award - in 1990 and 2006.
Richardson wed filmmaker Robert Fox in 1990 but they split two years later. She married Neeson in 1994.
She is survived by her mother, her sister Joely Richardson, half-brother Carlo Nero, and her two sons with Neeson, Micheal Richard Antonio, 13, and 12-year-old Daniel Jack.
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