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To Rome with Love (DQ)


Stars: Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Greta Gerwig, Judy Davis, Alison Pill, Alessandra Mastronardi, Alessandro Tiberi, Carol Alt, Ornella Muti

Director: Woody Allen

That wily old campaigner Woody Allen gives himself all the best lines on his return to acting, in a paean to Rome as a citta romantica. It comes across like one of those old Italian sex comedies of decades ago, although Woody's distinguished cast keep a sight more clothes on than they did then.

The stories are separate and don't intertwine. Antonio (Tiberi) and his equally shy new wife Milly (Mastronardi) arrive in Rome as he seeks an upmarket new job. While she gets lost in the city and is seduced by a famous film star, he is surprised at their hotel by a voluptuous hooker (a stunning-looking Cruz) who has the wrong room, but is subsequently forced to act as his (rather alternative) wife.

Meantime, tourist Hayley (Pill) whose parents (Allen, Davis) are on their way, falls heavily for Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti), whose mortician father (Fabio Armiliato) sings like Caruso - but only in the shower.

In another part of the city, John (Baldwin) meets Jack (Eisenberg), who may or may not be his younger self, and sees him fall for visiting actress Monica (Page) to the neglect of his girlfriend (Gerwig). Then there's humble clerk Leopoldo (Benigni at his most ingratiating) who, for no apparent reason, suddenly finds himself famous.

It's all pleasant enough, if inherently artificial and manipulative. But Allen's retired music executive, who smells money when he hears his host sing, will make you laugh, while Mastronardi is a real find as the bride who strays into foreign beds.

David Quinlan

Italy/USA 2012. UK Distributor: Sony (Sony Pictures Classics). Colour by deluxe.
112 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Sep 2012