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Film / To Rome with Love

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To Rome with Love is a 2012 Romantic Comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen, set in the Italian capital city and featuring an ensemble cast including Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Elliot Page, Ornella Muti and Allen himself in his first acting role since Scoop.

The film is composed of four vignettes:

  • American tourist Hayley (Alison Pill) falls in love and becomes engaged to Italian pro bono lawyer Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti) while spending a summer in Italy. Her parents Phyllis (Davis) and Jerry (Allen) come to visit to meet their future in-laws. Jerry is a neurotic former opera director who made a series of avant-garde yet critically reviled productions during his career and isn't taking his retirement well. When he notices Michelangelo's father Giancarlo (Fabio Armillato) has a beautiful baritone voice while Singing in the Shower, Jerry becomes determined to have him perform in public. Unfortunately, Giancarlo is apparently incapable of singing properly outside of the shower. Hilarity Ensues.

  • Newlyweds Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) and Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) move from their rural hometown to Rome so that Antonio's wealthy relatives can meet Milly and hopefully offer them a job in their company. Unfortunately, while Milly is looking for a salon to fix her hair, she becomes hopelessly lost and loses her cell phone. Eventually she runs into a film shoot, where she meets her favorite actor Lulca Salta (Antonio Albanese), who becomes infatuated with her. Meanwhile, after opening the door in his underwear thinking Milly has returned, Antonio encounters prostitute Anna (Cruz), who enters and wraps himself around him since she had been paid to service the room's occupant (apparently she was given the wrong number). Unfortunately, Antonio's relatives arrive that very moment, prompting Antonio to pretend Anna is his wife and convincing her to play along. Hilarity Ensues.

  • Leopoldo Pisanello (Benigni) is an ordinary, middle-aged Italian Salary Man with a mundane life, a wife and two children. One day, he finds himself caught in a comedic yet kafkaesque ordeal when he suddenly becomes a celebrity for no apparent reason. Hilarity Ensues.

  • American architect John (Baldwin) is visiting Rome and decides to look for the apartment building he used to live in as a young man. He meets the current occupant, American architecture student Jack (Eisenberg) and his girlfriend Sally (Gerwig). Sally has invited her actress best friend Monica (Page) to stay with them for a while. Sally warns Jack that Monica tends to make men fall for her but Jack isn't worried. However, over the course of the visit, Jack starts growing more and more attracted to Monica while John keeps warning him not to follow that path. Hilarity doesn't ensue.

This film contains examples of:

  • Alter Kocker: Jerry, although that may be a side effect of being played by Woody Allen
  • Auto Erotica: The only place where Monica is fine to sleep with Jack.
  • Betty and Veronica: Sally is the Betty and Monica is the Veronica to Jack's Archie. They even have relatively similar names to their counterparts.
  • Closet Shuffle: oops, the actor's wife is coming...
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Phyllis serves as this for Jerry in a sense. Jerry isn't necessarily Cloud Cuckoo Lander material, but he tends to comes up with eccentric (if not downright crazy) ideas for the sake of coming out of retirement, which he hates immensely. Since Phyllis is a psychiatrist, she can tell whenever he's behaving like this out of a desire to go back into his old line of work, and tries her best to convince him that he's in way over his head.
  • Chick Magnet: Leopoldo when famous.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Phyllis and John.
  • The Everyman: Leopoldo is this at first, until the fame gets to his head.
  • Hidden Depths: As mentioned above, Giancarlo has a genuinely amazing opera voice, but only uses it when he sings in the shower. Naturally, when Jerry discovers it, he tries to utilize this talent so that he can come out of retirement. It doesn't work too well at first since Giancarlo is too embarassed to sing in front of other people, but then they come up with the idea for him to sing in the shower on stage, and surely enough, his voice blows everyone away!
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Anna, who is genuinely a nice person, and tries to teach Antonio about how relationships work along the way, which includes giving him advice about his own relationship with Milly.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Monica's ex boyfriend was gay and she failed to convert him.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: John accuses Monica of being this, especially when she starts quoting random poets. "She memorized a line of every poet".
  • Really Gets Around: Monica, according to Sally. Anna as well, naturally, since she's a prostitute. We even get to see her various clients at a party later on.
  • Sanity Slippage: Leopoldo has a minor case of this towards the end when he gets to go back to his regular life and realizes that he actually liked his life as a celebrity moreso. This causes him to start desperately doing increasingly embarassing things in public so that he can get people's attention again, such as unzipping and taking down his pants in the middle of the street.
  • Spirit Advisor: John seems to act as a bizarre form of this: he undeniably exists in the film's universe and people occasionally react to his presence but the vast majority of the time, he seems to drop in to give Jack advice regardless of the situation and no one even seems to wonder why this middle aged guy keeps following a bunch of twenty somethings around. This gives the impression that John is meant to symbolize Jack's conscience or even his future self (they're both architects, both lived in the same building...)
  • Spoof Aesop: At the end of his story, after Leopoldo loses his fame, a man told him that "life can be monotonous and wearying whether one is a celebrity or a normal man... Still, it is much better to be a weary celebrity than it is to be a weary regular man.".