The Feast of Rome by Woody Allen

For seven years now, Woody Allen has wanted to be more European than American, when in fact this noble New York Jew, unwavering narcissist, fan of Ingmar Bergman and subjected to the terror of birth (Zelig), is already rooted anywhere but within four cubits of his neurosis. A new wind, lifted by the ruins of its American ecosystem, is now pushing this masked heir of Yiddish storytellers to trace the path back to its origins and explore the Old Continent. An exile in the film that took him three times to England (Match Point2005; Scoop2006; Cassandra’s dream2007), once in Spain (Vicky Cristina Barcelona2008) and once in France (midnight in Paris2011), with relatively variable success.

To Italy now with To Rome with Love. Rome, sure. With love, it can be seen. The program in any case is full, with four stories performed allegro presto in parallel.

1. An American architect who passed through town with his wife, who returned there in his imagination to a painful sentimental period of his youth, translated before his eyes by various protagonists, including already himself, at that stage.

2. An elderly opera director (Woody Allen) with a disastrous career, who is from New York to meet his daughter’s Italian fiancé in the Eternal City, discovers the father of the latter, his manager state, an unparalleled lyrical talent and decided to push him on the paths of glory.

3. A young couple from the provinces came to try their luck in the capital, but parted ways, the woman disappeared from town and fell into the arms of a famous actress, the man was found himself on a call – woman who entered the wrong room and who he is now forced to pretend to be his wife.

4. A lowly, inactive employee, Roberto Benigni, is brought to the pinnacle of fame all night long by the surreal grace of a reality TV program, never understanding the reason for it.

The false choral film whose different parts hardly intersect, To Rome with Love, beyond the impression of confusion and relatively casualness that comes from it, yet there is a real connection. It’s driven – like traffic dangerously choreographed by a gleaming Roman policeman at the film’s opening – by the celebrity’s omnipresent motif, running from one story and one character to another, for better (rarely) and for worse (often). The characters in the film thus reveal themselves as more or less compliant victims of the curiosity used by the visibility of the contemporary mind. Sight is no longer a consequence of merit or talent, but as a principle of a virtue which no longer needs to be proved, and which is to be found here, in the baroque beauty of Rome, a state of harmony. .

This universal disease, which has spread to America, is found in fact in Italy today with much greater resentment. Should we blame Woody Allen for taking advantage of this? In any case, he remained faithful, in doing so, in this American way that made him visit Europe by embroidering national archetypes, by frolicking with clichés. Thus he dealt with the brutality of the social hierarchy of England, the damages of the love of Spain, the chosen love of the arts of France. The Italian location in this European suite is probably not the most enviable. But everything is relative, especially when one considers the area that Germany could one day occupy.

THE TEASER

American film by Woody Allen with Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg (1 h 51).

On the Web: www.marsfilms.com and sonyclassics.com (official site in English).

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