To Rome with Love, Woody Allen's much-anticipated Italian follow-up to Midnight in Paris, opens today in the Italian capital, but has already drawn negative responses from some local critics.
According to a report on NPR, "critics called the movie superficial, banal and full of stereotypes, and said it lacks the irony and scathing satire present in most Italian postwar cinema." La Repubblica's Paolo d'Agostini suggested that Allen had only a sketchy grasp of the realities of contemporary Italy when he wrote: "Can you imagine a Roman traffic cop living in an apartment overlooking the Spanish Steps?", while Camillo de Marco wrote on Cineuropa.org: "Rome's beauty is not quite enough to hide its clichés."
To Rome with Love has a four-part storyline, divided into individual vignettes. Roberto Benigni plays a man who becomes a massive media celebrity overnight; Penelope Cruz a prostitute who disrupts a young couple's relationship; and Allen himself plays an opera director who discovers a singer who can only perform well in the shower.
Allen has regularly had to fend off similar criticisms: when Midnight in Paris was released, French film-maker Robert Guédéguian accused him of ignoring "poor Parisians earning below the minimum wage" , while the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw complained that, in Allen's first London-set movie Match Point, "the dialogue is composed in a kind of Posh English that Allen seems to have learned from a Berlitz handbook".
Allen may be reaping the reward of keeping non-Italian press out of the first screenings (the version released in Italy has a dubbed dialogue track, which Allen is known to dislike) as he tends to get a better response from non-native critics, who are less attentive to implausible details.
To Rome with Love will be released in the US on 22 June; no date has yet been set for the UK.
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