In any Allen film there are nuggets of humor -and sometimes poignancy- that are so knockout they reward one’s sitting through some of the misfires and repetitions of which he’s so often accused. To Rome With Love, the latest, has two such narrative threads: the first shows us a (Roman) mortician with an incredible operatic tenor; trouble is, he can only sing in the shower. This idiosyncrasy leads Woody -as a one-time producer of classical concerts- to stage an entire La Scala-sized production of Pagliacci, with the tenor performing under a shower-head in the midst of the full cast. That Woody takes this incredible comic conceit as far as he does is a mark of his brilliance. He’s also so right-on about human relations: he has Ellen Page, as a narcissistic self-promoter who’s learned how to push the right intellectual buttons (Camus, Levi-Strauss) to impress guys into giving her what she wants. She’s coyly manipulated her best girl-friend’s fiance (Jesse Eisenberg) into desiring her. But in their apartment, alone w/Jesse, when he tries to come on, she demurs: oh, I couldn’t, how could I, she’s my best friend…and certainly not in her own apartment, no never, NEVER here in her own apartment…How about we go downstairs to my car? he suggests. All right, she says, you can fuck me in the car. And her reading is so matter-of-fact, so accepting of the new parameters, that it’s perfect. Yay Woody, keep ’em coming.
Lawrence Schulman said:
I will perhaps see the latest Woody Allen if it comes to my neck of the woods, but I have totally lost interest in his cinema. I thought Midnight in Paris was a tired accumulation of clichés. I heard on NPR the other day that there is an effort to finance his making a film “on” Israel. Oy veh.