Midnight in Paris, though not a phenomenal film, had somewhat renewed my hopes that Woody Allen might start making Woody Allen movies again (though I did not dislike his non-Woody Allen movies - Vicky Christina Barcelona was great). Alas, To Rome With Love is a pale shadow of a Woody Allen film. The all star cast seems to have been instructed to tamp down their performances as much as possible (why put Benigni in a movie if you're looking for restraint?), so most of the fun has been throttled out of it. What little spark there is in the largely bland dialogue is stifled after being delivered with what seems like dogged determination and grim resolve. Even Allen himself, back in his usual role, is utterly without energy. As a result, the somewhat absurd plot seems listless and random, without anything to grab on to and care about.
It's a real pity, because it could be a fun movie. Parts of it manage to be entertaining anyhow, and one character, a seemingly chaste young wife, even musters a delightful eroticism that makes adultery seem charming. One of the amusements of Woody Allen's recent movies is watching young actors play stock roles from his catalogue: Jesse Eisenberg does a good turn as the nervously chattering Woody Allen type, but Ellen Paige is rather unfortunately miscast as the quirky crazed pixie fatale. In general, the Italians are better than the Americans, maybe partly just because they're new faces. Another reliable pleasure is setting, and while Rome doesn't get the lavish attention that Paris or New York does, it still looks quite nice.
Overall though, a bland and rather mediocre film. Alas, alas.