To Rome with Love

Directed by Woody Allen

Italy, 2012

Cornerhouse, 15 September 2012

To Rome with Love

It is curious that – while the comedy is generally clear or notable by its absence – few have noticed the fantastical element that characterises Woody Allen’s best films.

In this enjoyable tour of the Italian capital there are about four main stories, each with its appetising aspect of absurdity.  Allen’s character brings an opera singer to the stage, that’s one: the snag is he can only sing when in the shower.  Another sees a clerk become suddenly famous, for no discernible reason whatever.  Just as in real life, you might say.  An architect visits his younger, more foolish and vital self in the third.  Finally, there’s a newly-wed couple honeymooning in the big, bad city, with temptations strewn all around them.  Like as happens with Perelman and Feydeau, the absurd premises create the conditions where the comedy can flourish.

Matters are altogether brighter and better, in my view, when Allen gets to appear in his own films.  Else you end up with an actor (Caine, Branagh) doing little more than playing him, channeling his distinctive voice.  Faced with an array of one-liners, it is difficult to choose just the one.  But this would be my favourite: ‘Don’t try to psychoanalyse me.  Many have tried, all have failed.’  The line is spoken, unsurprisingly perhaps, by Allen himself.

They are plentiful, the pleasures to be had here.  When Allen is on song, as in this love letter, he is pitch perfect.