If you reread those previous paragraphs, you'll realize that in his four stories Allen has written four vintage Woody Allen roles, each representing a stage in his nearly 50-year movie career. In each tale, characters yearn for something different in their lives, get it and then face the consequences, for good or ill. It's just the kind of reflective work we've grown to expect from 76-year-old Allen. The difference here is he's accomplishing it with uncommon good humor from start to finish.
As usual for an Allen comedy, the women are thoughtful and knowing; the men are a mess, but they get the best lines. (Marveling at how wonderful Armiliato's character sounds in the shower, Jerry observes that even though he himself can't usually sing a note, when he gets into the shower and all soaped up, "I sound like Eartha Kitt!")
All of this is played against the background of the Eternal City, and Iranian-born cinematographer Darius Khondji — as he did in Allen's Midnight in Paris — lavishes the city with all the loving care he would a leading lady. From the Trevi Fountain to the Borghese Gardens, Khondji's Rome is somehow both warm and monumental. I wanted to go straight from the theater to the airport and catch the next Alitalia flight out of town.
Some minor structural problems dog To Rome With Love. While two of the tales could take place within a day or two, the others would require weeks, or even months, to unfold. Yet Allen still cuts back and forth among them, creating some chronological whiplash. And the transitions between fantasy and farce are similarly disorienting. The film might have worked a little better if the stories were told episodically, as in the similarly multistoried Paris Je T'Aime.
But you know what? I'm not about to tell Woody Allen what to do. He remains among our most thoughtful, reliably entertaining filmmakers, and To Rome With Love is a worthy addition to his unmatched film canon.