Woody AllenTo Rome With Love

Woody AllenTo Rome With Love

To Rome With Love

Cast: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Antionio Albanese, Fabio Armiliato, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ornella Muti, Flavio Parenti, Alison Pill, Riccardo Scamarcio, Alessandro Tiberi
Director: Woody Allen
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rated: MA
Running Time: 102 minutes

Synopsis: To Rome With Love is a kaleidoscopic comedy movie set in one of the world's most enchanting cities.

The film brings us into contact with a well-known American architect reliving his youth; an average middleclass Roman who suddenly finds himself Rome's biggest celebrity; a young provincial couple drawn into separate romantic encounters; and an American opera director endeavouring to put a singing mortician on stage.

Well-known architect John (Alec Baldwin) is vacationing in Rome, where he once lived in his youth. Walking in his former neighbourhood he encounters Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), a young man not unlike himself. As he watches Jack fall head-over-heels for Monica (Ellen Page), his girlfriend Sally's (GretaGerwig) dazzling and flirtatious friend, John relives one of the most romantically painful episodes of his own life.

At the same moment, retired opera director Jerry (Woody Allen) flies to Rome with his wife Phyllis (Judy Davis), to meet their daughter Hayley's (Alison Pill) Italian fiancée, Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti). Jerry is amazed to hear Michelangelo's undertaker father, Giancarlo (renowned tenor Fabio Armiliato) singing arias worthy of La Scala while lathering up in the shower. Convinced that talent that prodigious cannot be kept hidden, Jerry clutches at the opportunity to promote Giancarlo and rejuvenate his own career.

Leopoldo Pisanello (Roberto Benigni) on the other hand is an exceptionally boring guy, who wakes up one morning and finds himself one of the most famous men in Italy with many unanswered questions. Soon the paparazzi trail his every move and question his every motivation. As Leopoldo grows accustomed to the varied seductions of the limelight, he gradually realises the cost of fame.

Meanwhile, Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) has arrived from the provinces in Rome hoping to impress his straight-laced relatives with his lovely new wife Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) so that he can get an upscale big city job. Through comic misunderstanding and chance, the couple is separated for the day. Antonio ends up passing off a stranger (Penélope Cruz) as his wife, while Milly is romanced by legendary movie star Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese).

While Rome is a city abundant with romance and comedy, Woody Allen's To Rome With Love is about people having adventures that will change their lives forever.

Release Date: October 18th, 2012

About the Production

Rome is a city like no other in the world. To be in Rome is to be surrounded by the silent monoliths of an ancient civilisation while at the same time experiencing the clamor of a modern metropolis teeming with life. Rome is the perfect fusion of history and the present-an exhilarating hub of extraordinary culture, art, and cuisine. "So much of the action and activity in Rome takes place outside, in its cafés and streets," says Woody Allen. "It's an amazing city just to walk in. The city itself is a work of art."

Rome is a city of very contemporary and sophisticated people as well as people who are very traditional. It attracts numerous visitors, from businessmen to tourists, all of whom are passing in and out of Rome and enjoying its delights. For Woody Allen it was a place that was too vast to be contained in a single plot. "I felt the city of Rome lent itself to a number of diverse tales," he says. "It was pregnant with possibilities. If you stop a hundred Romans, they'll tell you: 'I'm from the city, I know it well and I could give you a million stories.'"

Leopoldo Pisanello (Roberto Benigni) is an ordinary Roman who suddenly and inexplicably finds himself to be one of the most talked about men in Rome. "Leopoldo Pisanello has no talent at all, he's a common, ordinary person," says Woody Allen, "he has no idea why he is being celebrated. He is quite aware that he is a nobody.

Leopoldo Pisanello is at first totally bewildered and annoyed by all the attention he's getting and then starts-without even realising-to like it." Says Roberto Benigni: "Leopoldo Pisanello was happy and content before he was famous; he had a harmony in his life. But when his harmony is upset he becomes completely discombobulated, trying to understand what is happening to him." Still, there are telling cracks in Leopoldo Pisanello's seeming equilibrium before fame taps him on the shoulder, notably a moment where he longingly looks at a beautiful woman in his office. "He has no chance with a woman like that and he knows it," says Woody Allen.

"Nobody cares what he has to say about anything, whether it's the movies he sees or whether he thinks the Chinese are taking over the world, and certainly that kind of extraordinary woman is out of his class, until suddenly it all becomes possible." As paparazzi start trailing him, Leopoldo Pisanello soon realises that everything he desires is readily available to him. "You do get seduced by fame," says Woody Allen. "Not necessarily always corrupted. Fame offers you a lot of opportunities that the average person never gets a chance to experience. So fame is a very seductive drug and it does work on him." While Leopoldo Pisanello enjoys the attention and the beautiful women who now throw themselves at him, he is also exasperated by other aspects associated with his sudden fame. "You give up your privacy, you're constantly hounded, and everything you do is looked at under a microscope," says Woody Allen.

Roberto Benigni, a true superstar in Italy, is all too aware of what the experience Leopoldo Pisanello has is like: "My dream is to walk in the street normally, watching people and having coffee, having a pizza and talking with friends. I lose a part of my life and I can't do that. But if this didn't happen anymore, I'd be worried it's a contradiction."

Says Woody Allen: "While there are many drawbacks to being well-known, I would have to say the perks outweigh the drawbacks. You can live with all that because what you get for it are a great many positive things."

On the flip side of Leopoldo Pisanello is Giancarlo (renowned tenor Fabio Armiliato), a man who possesses great talent and yet is completely anonymous. A brilliant opera singer, Giancarlo sings only privately for his own enjoyment. He has never tried it in public. "One can never know what stimulates an artist," says Woody Allen. If the only place that Shakespeare can write is by sitting on a bridge chair in the middle of 42nd Street, for whatever intangible reason, that's not something we may ever be able to understand. Giancarlo can only sing under very special circumstances."

On the face of it Giancarlo doesn't seem to care about fame, but meeting his future daughter-in-law's father, Jerry (Woody Allen), changes everything. A former opera director who is unsatisfied with his retirement, Jerry feels that he never really made his mark on the world. "He's tried some avant-garde things, but they didn't work out and he's never achieved the notoriety or the acceptance he was looking for," says Woody Allen. "He's frustrated, and when he finally gets the opportunity to possibly cash in on Giancarlo's talent, he grabs it." At first Jerry must overcome the serious obstacle of Giancarlo's leftist son-and his future son-in-law-Michelangelo (Flavio Parenti), who is extremely hostile to the idea of his humble father being prodded by Jerry into the world of public entertaining. In his protectiveness, Michelangelo doesn't stop to consider his father's own wishes.

Says Woody Allen: "I think that when people have a real talent, it demands expression. Sooner or later you want some communication of it. I'm sure Giancarlo is the same as anyone. He wants someone to hear his voice and have that relational moment where he sings and people are moved by it."

Another character in To Rome With Love, Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi), while possessing no special talent herself does get to meet a gifted actor. Milly arrives in Rome from a provincial town with her new husband Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) in search of a new life in the big city. Everything depends on the impression they make on Antonio's wealthy relatives, who are in the position to give him a high-level job.

To look her best, Milly sets out for a hairdresser, but gets hopelessly lost in the labyrinthine streets ofRome. At the same time, Antonio is surprised in his hotel room by the appearance of Anna (PenélopeCruz), a voluptuous call girl who mistakenly believes she has been hired to have sex with him. Anna has been told that Antonio is eccentric and will try to resist, so she refuses to leave. Protesting profusely, Antonio suddenly finds himself forced onto the bed and it is in this compromising position that his relatives find him when they arrive at the hotel room. The only explanation that Antonio can come up with at the spur of the moment is that Anna is actually his wife Milly. Taking pity on him-and having been paid for the day-Anna agrees to go along with this story, and the relatives, although astonished that Antonio has married this indecorous bombshell, seem to accept his ruse. While Anna is willing to say she is Antonio's wife, this doesn't mean she will alter her behaviour, which sets the stage for many comic situations.

Says Penelope Cruz: "Anna is a very free spirit and she doesn't have a social filter in her mind so she says everything she feels without ever worrying about the consequences."

Meanwhile, as Milly is trying to find her way back to the hotel, she encounters two movie stars, Pia Fusari (Ornella Muti) and her idol Luca Salta (Antonio Albanese). Milly is flabbergasted when Salta offers to take her out to lunch, and eventually, to his hotel room. "When a beautiful young girl comes up to any movie star and says, 'I see all your movies and I'm crazy about you,' he would have a very good chance of taking that girl to bed because three-quarters of the work is already done," says Woody Allen. When Antonio is out for lunch with Anna and his family, he is stunned to see Milly at another table being wooed by Salta, which challenges his conception of her as an innocent, virginal girl. Later, at a party for the elite of Rome, Antonio finds out that Anna has a degree of notoriety, albeit one lacking Luca Salta's prestige.

Many of Rome's top businessmen seem to know her quite well, and line up to make appointments. Later, while taking a walk in the vast gardens during the party, Anna questions Antonio about his marriage. She scoffs at his description of Milly as a "Madonna," intuiting that it is Antonio who is actually the innocent one. In her own unique way, Anna helps Antonio move forward with a heightened self-awareness. "Anna takes her job very seriously and with a lot of dignity," says Penelope Cruz. "She is convinced that her services are therapeutic and that she does a great service to society."

While in Rome on holiday, John (Alec Baldwin), a famous American architect, explores the neighbourhood he lived in during his student days. There he runs into a young architectural student, Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), who recognises John from a newspaper photo, and invites him over to his apartment for coffee with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig). John soon realises he may have lived in the very same building as Jack. Sally tells Jack that her actress friend Monica (Ellen Page) has just broken up with her boyfriend and is coming to Rome for a change of scenery. Sally describes Monica as sensual, brainy, neurotic, funny-a real man magnet.

Says Greta Gerwig: "I think Sally is nervous about Monica, but she thinks that if she just lays out all her fears at the beginning-'I want to say all the crazy things I'm worried about'-it will act almost like a talisman and then nothing will happen." John warns Jack not to fall in love with Monica: "He probably knows that Jack will never listen," says Alec Baldwin, "but he can't stop trying. Jack is on a course that may lead to disaster. It's like Jack is playing in traffic and John wants him to get out of the road." Says Jesse Eisenberg: "To have John giving him this practical, but also jaded advice only emboldens Jack. It makes him even more passionate about pursuing Monica."

Of course there is also the element of John seeing Jack as himself as a young man in Rome and Jack's story is really John's experience in the past seen now by John with the clarity of hindsight and the understanding of how foolish he was once and how shallow and unworthy of his love was Monica. Still, the attraction trumps logic.

Monica loses no time living up to her reputation by dazzling Jack with the lurid details of her wild and unconventional sex life, as well as her seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of art. "Monica is free and has a kind of fluidity in the moment, and I think that's a very appealing thing to people," says Ellen Page.

"Maybe it's because we all want to feel free. But ultimately people like her don't necessarily make great partners because there isn't a lot of solidness." Says Woody Allen: "You can't corral people like Monica. They're too desirable and everybody wants them and they learn that early on. It's very difficult to have a long-term stable relationship with that kind of person." While John does everything he can to forewarn Jack, the inevitable happens and he succumbs to Monica's charms. "He's in a youthful, romantic bubble, so of course he's drawn to her," says Jesse Eisenberg. "She's so self-involved, and her self-involvement makes her so interesting, that when she shines her light anywhere near him, he feels immediately and disproportionately excited."

Throughout, John hovers around Jack (but is John just watching himself as a youth?), slipping in and out of scenes, commenting on Monica and Sally as if they weren't there, leaving the question of what exactly is going on quite open. This is something that Woody Allen has done deliberately. "You can look at it two different ways," he says, "but the safest way is that Alec Baldwin takes a walk down memory lane and he's meeting his youth in spirit, remembering what had gone on, what his feelings were, the mistakes he made, what the desperations were, and having that as a memory he never got over. Jack is John's youth without being young John in flashback." Says Ellen Page: "Different people will perceive it in different ways.

Maybe people who are older will look at it through the perspective of John and maybe people who are younger will be more attached to the immediacy of the interactions between Monica, Jack and Sally, and John will seem like an outsider." No matter how one interprets the story, the heart of it is about the wisdom of age looking back at the callowness of youth. Says Alec Baldwin: "In my opinion, and from my experience, looking back at our younger selves, at youth in general is alternately moving and appalling. We see younger people and think, 'I can't believe I did that or said that.' But it's part of life to grow and change: sometimes slowly; sometimes more quickly."

Many of the characters in To Rome With Love share a desire to be appreciated, particularly if they are relatively ordinary themselves. This need is illustrated in Jerry and Leopoldo's stories, but also in the strategy that Luca Salta employs to romance Milly: he tells her that he values her opinions on cultural matters, an acknowledgement that her husband has never given her. Jerry's son-in-law to-beMichelangelo keeps the subject of every conversation on himself and his altruistic views, which makes him feel special and important. Likewise, Jack's self-esteem swells when he believes that a woman with the sparkle of Monica would choose him as a lover. "Unavailable women are like catnip to some men, particularly when they are younger," says Alec Baldwin. "You don't actually want them. You just want to win the game. It's about ego." Ellen Page thinks that Monica is also on a constant quest to be validated by the opinions of others: "When Monica is engaging with people, she always has this air of striving to be the intellectual. I perceive that that might have something to do with her insecurity and her need to feel important, as in 'Please like me! I'm smart and I know this really good quote!'"

This fundamental need in the human psyche to be acknowledged could be the basis of people's craving for fame. "We live in a society where fame is this completely cherished and worshipped thing," says Ellen Page, "even though it's constantly being revealed to us that's it's typically not a healthy lifestyle for people and it can even disintegrate them. People pursue the idea that: 'this is going to make me happy; this is going to make me feel important; this is going to make me feel grounded and safe and powerful.' The irony is that the thing that people are expecting to fill them is what ultimately makes them feel quite empty." Says Woody Allen: "People desire fame for the same reason they pursue anything. Everything we do, whether it's fame, money, pretty clothes, possessions, artistic or athletic skill, whatever it is, what you're trying to do is attract a member of the opposite sex, as disguised as that may be in the actual action."

The stories found in To Rome With Love explore the eternal quest for love and sex in its many variations: from a betrothal and a honeymoon through assorted acts of infidelity; from tender lovemaking to more spontaneous liaisons; from the absurd and ridiculous to the poignant and profound; from the exhilaration of newfound love all the way to heartbreak and its aftermath. These romantic interludes play out simultaneously in this ancient and bustling city, in every part of town, in the past and in the present. They will carry on into the future. Countless people have found love on the streets of Rome-these are but a few.