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Allen's Roman holiday greeted with disdain

Woody Allen’s latest film seems to have hit spot of critical flak, just as he appeared to have been on the verge of a career revival.

To Rome With Love is the latest of Allen’s Euro travelogues following on from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight In Paris and some underwhelming comedies set in London. It offers a shorthand guide to Rome, with plenty of shots of familiar tourist sights. Roman critics thought the film a rather superficial portrait of their city.

Paolo d'Agostini of La Repubblica gently mocked Allen’s notion of a Roman traffic cop living in an apartment overlooking the Spanish Steps, while other critics laughed at Allen’s fondness for visual clichés.

The film is a series of interlocking stories, with a cast that includes Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz and Allen himself. It is not a serious attempt to get to grips with modern Italian life, any more than any of his previous films attempted any substantial social commentary.

It seems Allen might have been guilty of believing too many recent reviews and getting the impression he was a serious filmmaker. He restricted initial screenings of To Rome With Love to the Italian press, who tend to operate to serious standards.

The bigger test will come with global critics and audiences, who won’t find the picture postcard images of Rome as laughable, and may be content with Allen’s light romcom touch. With Midnight in Paris, a film unafraid of the occasional Gallic cliché, Allen rediscovered a mass audience. The box office will be the only meaningful judge of his latest.

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