Friday, July 13, 2012

Sketched Discussion: To Rome with Love

To Rome with Love is the new Woody Allen film that's a love letter to Rome and features a collection of tiny romantic comedies set around the city.  Here's a quick review: It's ok. Kinda cute, kinda weird, has some funny bits and cute parts but feels otherwise disjointed.  Not as good as some of Woody Allen's other movies (like Midnight in Paris), but it's still a love letter to Rome with some nice atmospheric shots. So maybe $$$.  But what I wanted to talk about was its treatment of its female characters, so spoilers below. 

This might be me just overanalyzing it, but it really gives the idea that you can cheat on or with any woman in Rome and they won't mind.  Pretty much every single female character is like this. If it were just a couple, it would be one thing, but consider all the examples.

The first problem is with a story of Monica(Ellen Page) coming to stay with Jack(Jessie Eisenberg) and Sally(Greta Gerwig) after a bad break up.   Monica is apparently secretly seducing Jack just for the hell of it.  You're never really sure if she's just like this with all men or if she actively tries to steal boyfriends, but they put forth the idea that she has this secret plan all along and poor Jack hasn't a clue what he's in for. And that's fine, whatever, that's kind of an interesting character.  

But then there's Jack's girlfriend, Sally, who keeps saying warnings half-heartedly like "oh I hope you don't fall in love with Monica and dump me because she's so pretty and guys fall all over her.  That would be unfortunate.  Ehhh please don't do that I guess." When in reality it should be "oh Monica's so pretty and IF YOU TOUCH HER I WILL MURDER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP AND NO ONE WILL FIND THE BODY." Stand up for yourself girl!  How is that realistic that she's just be so passive?  And P.S. Jack sleeps with Monica but Monica leaves before he can run away with her but doesn't tell Sally luckily and they live happily ever after with Sally completely oblivious. Isn't that just great for Jack.

Then there's a story of Leopoldo(Roberto Benigni), an average working man who suddenly becomes famous for being famous and has all this attention thrust upon him.  Everyone suddenly loves Leopoldo, including gaggles of young starlets who throw their bodies at him and don't care who else he sleeps with.  They all just accept that it's different for him.  Ok, I can accept the starlets and models, that seems like something they'd do.  But then there's Lepoldo's wife.  You'd think she'd be furious to find out and set up an interesting and natural conflict with Leopoldo of him choosing his wife or choosing young beautiful women, but no.  She's completely fine with it.  She even laments after he loses his fame, "Oh I'm so glad I don't have to share you with women anymore."  Really? You don't mind at all? No woman in Rome is at all possessive of her man?  This just seems like a huge male power fantasy, and I kept waiting for Leopoldo to wake up, but nope.

Then there's the newlyweds, Antonio and Milly, who get separated and Milly ends up being seduced by a movie star, Luca Salta, and Antonio ends up with a prostitute, Anna, pretending to be his wife. And then Anna and Antonio have sex because Anna thinks Antonio needs a lesson and his wife will definitely understand. Which no, no in normal circumstances I don't think his wife would approve of him sleeping with a prostitute. At all. But hey, we're in Rome so apparently that's ok.

Then there's Milly, who is about to sleep with Luca who she has a total crush on. And ok, that's fine.  Even though she's on her honeymoon and has no idea where her husband is and for all she knows he's looking for her and worried sick, whatever. He's a big star and it's her fantasy and it's just desserts anyways for Antonio "learning a lesson" from a prostitute. But then in Luca's hotel room, they get held up at gunpoint by a robber. He steals all of Luca's money and takes Milly's wedding ring and quite literally brings her to tears.  But then, funny twist, Luca's wife shows up and Milly and the robber have to do some quick thinking to help Luca escape. And after Luca runs off, you'd think Milly would have the idea to run off or get the jump on the burglar. Nope, she sleeps with him.

REALLY MOVIE?!  She sleeps with the man who two minutes ago was holding a gun to her face while she's in her underwear making her cry?  She shouldn't see being held up at gunpoint as an obvious consequence of cheating on her husband and instantly run back to him?  But I guess it's fine she wants to have sex with this random burglar because, hey, she was already going to cheat on her husband with the movie star and it's just as bad, and they're already in bed, and he's moderatly handsome, and she's never had sex with a criminal and NO, NO IT IS NOT OK. Do you know how bad this looks and how empowering to criminal rapists it is?  "Well obviously she wants to have sex with me, I'm a criminal and criminals are sexy!" I get that they wanted it to be a funny turn of events and it's hilarious because this wouldn't happen in real life, but no, it doesn't work because this WOULDN'T happen in real life!  Not even in a funny way!  Ugh.

If these were each individual stories, by themselves it might be ok or slightly comical, but put together, it just puts forth this horrible view of women and looks like one huge disgusting male power fantasy. Haley, Allison Pill's character, probably gets out the best for literally doing nothing the whole movie. And again, maybe I'm jsut readign too much into it and putting together pieces that don't fit together, but this does not look empowering to women at all.

But what do you guys think? Have you seen To Rome with Love?  Do you agree or disagree? Does this make you want to see the movie more or less? 

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