To Rome with Love (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 9, 2013 by  

I absolutely enjoyed “To Rome with Love”.  The film is beautiful, the humor and stories of the vignette’s featured in this film is like an homage to classic Commedia all’Italiana.  An enjoyable Woody Allen film on Blu-ray.  “To Rome with Love” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Gravier Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: To Rome with Love


DURATION: 112 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, Mandarin, English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English – Audio Description Track, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Hindi, Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (For Some Sexual References)

Release Date: January 16, 2013

Written and Directed by Woody Allen

Produced by Faruk Alatan, Letty Aronson, Giampaolo Letta, Stephen Tenenbaum

Co-Producer: David Nichols, Helen Robin

Co-Executive Producer: Jack Rollins

Line Producer: Francesco Marras

Cinematography by Darius Khondji

Edited by Alisa Lepselter

Casting by Patricia Kerrigan DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger, Juliet Taylor

Production Design by Anne Seibel

Art Direction by Luca Tranchino

Set Decoration by Raffaella Giovannetti

Costume Design by Sonia Grande


Judy Davis as Phyllis

Flavio Parenti as Michelangelo

Roberto Benigni as Leopoldo

Alison Pill as Hayley

Alessandro Tiberi as Antonio

Allesandra Mastronardi as Milly

Alec Baldwin as John

Carol Alt as Carol

David PAsquesi as Tim

Antonio Albanese as Luca Salta

Lynn Swanson as Ellen

Fabio Armilato as Giancarlo

Minica Nappo as Sofia

ORnella Muti as Pia Fusari

Woody Allen as Jerry

Jessei Eisenberg as Jack

Greta Gerwig as Sally

Penelope Cruz as Anna

Ellen Page as Monica

Romance! Adventure! Hilarity! Italy! Woody Allen leads this all-star cast on a rollicking ride through the streets of one of the worlds greatest cities. Lovers and Fiancées, Opera Singers and Architects, the talented and the famous, and the youthful and the wise are all players within this ensemble tour-de-force, as their stories and lives magically criss-cross and collide throughout this engaging film. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page in a movie as incredible as Rome itself.

Woody Allen has had the opportunity to create films in different countries in recent years.  “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” in 2008, “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” in 2010 filmed in London, “Midnight in Paris” in 2011 and in 2012, in Rome for his latest comedy “To Rome with Love”.

A film in which distributors of Rome gave Allen the chance to create a film in their country and being a fan of Italian cinema and would earn over $73 million in worldwide box office sales and the seventh highest grossing film for Sony Pictures Classics.

The film would feature the return of Woody Allen as director and actor (who has not appeared in a film since “Scoop” in 2006) and the romantic comedy would feature a total of four separate vignette.

The film would feature an all-star ensemble cast starring Woody Allen, Judy Davis (“Deconstructing Harry”, “A Passage to India”, “Barton Fink”), Flavio Parenti (“I Am Love”, “Tell Me About Love”), Roberto Benigni (“Life is Beautiful”, “Pinocchio”, “The Tiger and the Snow”), Alison Pill (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Milk”), Alessandro Tiberi (“Boris”, “Generazione Mille Euro”), Alessandra Mastronardi (“I Cesaroni”, “Romanzo criminale”), Alec Baldwin  (“Beetle Juice”, “30 Rock”), Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”, “Zombieland”, “Adventureland”), Greta Gerwig (“Damsels in Distress”, “No Strings Attached”, “Arthur”), Penelope Cruz (“Blow”, “Vanilla Sky”, “Volver”), Ellen Page (“Juno”, “Inception”, “Hard Candy”, “X-Men: The Last Stand”), Fabio Armiliato (“Tosca”, “Madame Butterfly”) and Carol Alt (“Private Parts”, “Beyond Justice”).

The first vignette would feature a young woman named Hayley (portrayed by Alison Pill), who has come to Rome on vacation but gets lost.  She asks a man named Michelangelo (portrayed by Flavio Parenti), a lawyer who speaks English for directions and Michelangelo decides to show her the location.  From this moment, the two would go on and date and eventually become a couple and are now prepared to get married.  But before she gets married, she wants her mother Phyllis (portrayed by Judy Davis) and her father, Jerry (portrayed by Woody Allen), a retired classical music exec to fly to Rome and meet Michelangelo and his parents.

The meeting between Michelangelo and Hayley’s father doesn’t go as well, as he is a lawyer who represents the people (and believes in unions), which Jerry is not so supportive of.  But problems begin when Jerry overhears Michelangelo’s father, Giancarlo sing in the shower.  His voice is of a gifted opera singer and having failed in creating opera success, Jerry wants to make Giancarlo an opera star and wants his fellow music execs to hear his voice.  But Giancarlo is against it because he doesn’t think he is a good singer and has never sung for public, but as Jerry tries and tries to get Giancarlo to do it, it upsets Michelangelo who wants Jerry to stop and leave his father alone.

But Jerry, believing in Giancarlo’s voice, wants to make him a star.  So, Giancarlo relents and decides to sing in front of music execs.  But Giancarlo doesn’t do as well.

Michelangelo is upset that Jerry put his father through the embarrassment and tells him that he can’t expect Jerry to make a person who sings in a shower to do well in public.  And immediately, Jerry has the idea…what if Giancarlo can singing in public, while showering.

Suffice to say, this leads to problems as Michelangelo is upset that Jerry keeps persisting, his wife wants him to stay retired, while Hayley tries to stick up for her father, causing friction between her and Michelangelo.

For the second vignette, Antonio (portrayed by Alessandro Tiberi) and his wife Milly (portrayed by Alessandra Mastronardi) come to Rome, as Antonio is being offered a significant job in the city.  But as Milly goes out for a short while, she gets confused of the Rome streets, despite the directions she has been given.  She loses her phone and ends up being lost.

Meanwhile, Antonio is worried because they must leave and go to the business meeting but Milly is not back.  When he hears a knock on the door, thinking it’s Milly, it’s actually a prostitute named Anna (portrayed by Penelope Cruz) who tells him that she was paid for the whole day to satisfy him.  Antonio tells him that she may have gotten the right room, but the wrong person.  Unfortunately, family from Rome arrives thinking they will meet Milly but instead they see Anna.  Not knowing where Milly is, Antonio has Anna pretend to be Milly.

As for Milly, she becomes starstruck when she sees a movie being filmed in the area and one of the lead actors asks her to join him for lunch.

For the third vignette, well-known American architect John (portrayed by Alec Baldwin), has come with his wife Carol (portrayed by Carol Alt) to Rome, to the area where he once lived.  As John goes to his former hang-out spot and tries to remember the past, he meets a young American architect student studying in Rome, named Jack (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg).

Jack is a fan of John’s work, so he invites John to meet his girlfriend Sally (portrayed by Greta Gerwig).  Each time Jesse interacts with Sally, John seems to know everything that Jack is thinking and tries to offer him advice, almost like he is Jack’s conscience.  Sally tells Jack that her friend and actress named Monica (portrayed by Ellen Page) is going to stay with them temporarily, as she had broken up with a gay man because their relationship wouldn’t work.

When Monica arrives, Jack finds himself being drawn by Monica’s free spirit and when Sally asks Jack to introduce him to a guy, so Monica can be happy, at first, everything seems fine.  But Jack starts to feel jealousy and finds himself falling for Monica.  Meanwhile, John is there in interesting moments and giving Jack some ideas.  Will Jack pursue Monica and dump his girlfriend Sally?

The fourth vignette revolves around Leopoldo (portrayed by Roberto Benigni).  A regular office worker who pretty much eats, sleeps, works and whatever free time there is, watching television with his wife and kids and living the same usual life.  But life changes for Leopoldo immediately when media start featuring him on television and follow him wherever he goes.

Leopoldo becomes the most famous man in Rome, but yet doesn’t understand why everyone cares about him.  His boss gives him his own office and a personal, sexy secretary and whatever he seems to do in public, the media cares.  But what happens when Leopoldo’s life changes drastically from boring to exciting, will he be able to handle the fame?


“To Rome with Love” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  One thing that worked to the film’s efficacy is choosing the right areas to film Rome.  No stock video footage, pretty much capturing the structure, the crowded areas and having the talent in those areas as cinematographer Darius Khondji (“Alien: Resurrection”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Se7en”) can capture the beautiful backdrops.    Rome has its fair share of graffiti laden areas but what Woody Allen features in film is the beautiful areas that Rome is known for and making it feel romantic.

Picture quality is vibrant during those key scenes.  Wonderful detail in the various structures, great detail when it comes to closeups.  Skin tones look natural, blacks look good and deep and I saw no problems with artifacts or any softness.  The film looked gorgeous in HD!


“To Rome with Love” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA with an English – Audio Descriptive Track.  The film is a romantic comedy that is primarily dialogue and music driven.  Dialogue is crystal clear through the center and front channels while the music sounds incredible in lossless.

The music for the soundtrack definitely has the Italian feel of utilizing opera, popular 50′s Italian music and also a bit of modern music as well.

The soundtrack kicks off with the popular Domenico Modugno 1958 hit song “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” which sets up the romantic mood for the film.

But the next song was an interesting transition as it goes to a remake of Paolo Zavallone (aka El Pasador) and a remake of his 1978 hit “Amada Mia, Amore Mio” redone by The Starlite Orchestra.  While the song incorporates the disco style of music that I grew up listening to as a child (which brought back memories of listening to disco versions of Beethoven and Mozart), the song is quite fun with the deep male vocal singing “Amada Mia, Amore Mio”.

The soundtrack then transitions back to two romantic Italian instrumentals.  “Arrivederci Roma” by Alredo Messina and “Ciribiribin” by Angelo DiPippo.  And you also get a few more instrumentals including DiPippo’s jazz version of “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” and “Libiamo ne’lieti Calici (from “La Traviata”).  Also, a bossna nova instrumental by Mop Mop titled “Three Times Bossa” and ending with Steven Bernstein’s Neapolitan Orchestra’s version of ”Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)”.  And also the inclusion of the the somewhat out of place, synth pop instrumental “Studio 99″ by Adam Hamilton.

As as the film is romantic to its core with instrumentals as part of one half of the soundtrack, you also get the gifted funeral director in the shower, played by  ”the best Chénier of our time”, Fabio Armiliato.  A good number of opera tracks such as “E Lucevan Le Stelle [From “Tosca”]“, “Nessun Dorma [From “Turandot”]” and opera tracks from “Fedora” and “Pagliacci” to round out the soundtrack.

You do get a little of the Woody Allen style of music that fans are familiar with the inclusion of “When Your Lover Has Gone” by American Eddie Condon & His Orchestra and the track “When Your Lover Has Gone”.  You also get the ’40s “Non Dimenticar Le Mie Parole” by Emilio Livi and the Trio Lescano.

A beautiful balance of Italian classic romantic tracks to operatic tracks by Fabio Armiliato, Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is complimentary to his latest film but also to hopeless romantics who are passionate for Italian music. And the music really sets the pace for “To Rome with Love” in capturing the feeling of love.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French, Hindi and Spanish.


“To Rome with Love” come with the following special features:

  • Con Amore: A Passion for Rome – (9:05) Producer Letty Aronson (also younger sister of Woody Allen) discusses how “To Rome with Love” came to be, the hiring of the cast.  Plus interviews with the cast members.
  • Trailer – (The theatrical trailer for “To Rome with Love”.

Having read books on Woody Allen and his passion for foreign films especially Italian films, we get to see Woody Allen being a bit Fellini-esque with his latest film “To Rome with Love”.

Sexy, fun and daring… “To Rome with Love” is quite reminiscent of Commedia all’Italiana (comedy Italian style) and almost like it’s paying homage to Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli and Vittorio De Sica but in modernized setting and also appeasing both Western and Italian sentimentality.

The first vignette featuring Woody Allen as a father who is a retired music exec trying to create the next big opera hit when he discovers his future son-in-law’s father singing while taking a shower.  Woody Allen’s humor is so hilarious that I could not stop laughing whenever he showed up on screen.  Allen knows how to use his character roles in the most unexpected moments and the spontaneity is wonderful but yet audacious as the character of Jerry (portrayed by Woody Allen) will go so far as to stage an opera with Giancarlo (portrayed by wonderful opera singer Fabio Armiliato) in a shower. It’s very odd, but yet so satisfying that I enjoyed it.

The second vignette, Antonio (portrayed by Alessandro Tiberi) and his wife Milly (portrayed by Alessandra Mastronardi) reminds me of Mario Monicelli’s “Boccaccio ’70” anthology segment but yet different predicaments.  For this segment, we have two people who are married and in love and have come to accept things as they are.  But when the are thrust into the city of Rome and are separated, they have their own sexual adventure but with other people.  But can this little one day of adventure, spice things up between Antonio and Milly?  Penelope Cruz has a sexy, sultry character portrayl of Anna that reminds you of older Sophia Loren Italian films.

The third vignette is what I call the Fellini-esque films. Best not to think hard about of how things happen or why things happen, they just do.

For this vignette, Sally loves Jack, Jack loves Sally but finds out he also loves her friend Monica.  While it sounds quite simplistic, what makes the film a bit odd is the character of John, portrayed by Alec Baldwin.  In the beginning, we see John with his friends and going to find his old hang-out area in Rome, which he runs into a young architect, named Jack (portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg), who happens to follow John’s work.  But the strange thing is that during the conversations that Jack has with the women on certain days, somehow out of nowhere, John shows up giving Jack advice.

So, we start to think, is John part of Jack’s conscience.  It may seem like it until, you see the female characters acknowledging John’s presence.  So, does that mean that John has been staying over at Jack’s place for several days and accompanying him everywhere, even when he’s with Sally or Monica?  It’s hard to say but it’s one of those things you see in classic Italian cinema.  Things happen, but don’t bother with an explanation, just enjoy!

And the final vignette is about Leopoldo (portrayed by Roberto Benigni).  A man who has a ho-hum life of being an office worker and can only dream how life would be if he was popular or became “the man”.  Well, one day, it comes true and he becomes the most famous man in Rome as paparazzi and media are always at his front door and wanting to know what he’s eating, doing that part of the day.  And Leopoldo has no idea why media would follow him.  But he’s become popular and he and his family are invited to Rome’s celebrity events, fashion events and even top actresses and models want to sleep with him.

But what happens when Leopoldo wants it all to go away?  Even his chauffeur tells him that it’s best to be a celebrity than not.

I suppose one can equate this to the amount of paparazzi experiences that a popular celebrity experiences during their most popular time in their lives.  They don’t like the media following them, they want their privacy.  But when the media stops giving you the attention, now what?  Celebrities try to find ways to get the media interested in them once again and its an interesting conundrum. And Leopold is that perfect example.

As for the Blu-ray release, “To Rome with Love” looks fantastic on Blu-ray.  While the first vignette is music driven, the second and third tend to emphasize the beauty of Rome of its longstanding structures and architecture, while the four vignette focuses on the glitz and glamor Rome has to offer.  The cinematography is beautiful, the picture quality is full of detail, sharp and colorful, while the lossless audio features a wonderful music soundtrack.  And as for special features, while Woody Allen is best known for not liking special features with his video releases, his last three releases have come with a featurette.  “To Rome with Love” comes with an interview with producer and Allen’s younger sister Letty Aronson, who goes into detail of how the film came to be and the casting of the people in the film and how Woody Allen managed to do it, without even speaking a word of Italian and just knew which shot would work for the film.  The featurette also includes interviews with the cast members and you get a trailer.

As for the film itself, I absolutely enjoyed “To Rome with Love”.  The film is beautiful, the humor and stories of the vignette’s featured in this film is like an homage to classic Commedia all’Italiana.

An enjoyable Woody Allen film on Blu-ray.  “To Rome with Love” is recommended!

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