Friday 29 July 2016

All Roads Lead To Rome

Ladies and gentlemen, I have had a terrifying ordeal. On my mother’s birthday this year, I endured a film entitled All Roads Lead To Rome with her. It is out now on DVD, and I’m writing to tell you that if you must go through a similar experience…abandon all hope, ye who watch it.

All Roads Lead To Rome, or All Roads Lead To Cliché as it should be called, is a rather painfully predictable watch. Everyone’s favourite has-been Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Maggie, an uptight single mother who, in an attempt to reconnect with her troubled teenage daughter Summer (Rosie Day), embarks on a journey to a Tuscan village she frequented in her youth. But in a totally unsurprising turn of events, Maggie bumps into her old flame Luca (Raoul Bova) who is still a bachelor, living with his elderly mother (Claudia Cardinale, the only bit of talent in this mess). I’m getting rather bored of writing about this plot already. Long story short, Maggie’s daughter and Luca’s mother steal a car and drive away together. Maggie and Luca chase them, rekindling their love for one another along the way. How delightful. I’m filled with endless joy as I remember this charming film! No, I’m shaking in fear under my desk. Has the nasty film-monster gone away yet?

Anyway, back to the review. First of all, it’s always nice to see the wonderful Claudia Cardinale. Ever since I saw her in 1963’s 8½ and 1968’s Once Upon a Time in the West, it has always been a pleasure to see her on screen. And it’s lovely to see that even in her late 70s, she’s lost none of her charm – it’s also nice to see she hasn’t had so much work done that she’s a big unrecognisable mess like some actresses from the 60s…Anyway, Cardinale steals the show here, bringing humour and heart to the proceedings. It’s a shame that nobody else seems interested in making any effort.

The cast are mostly pretty poor – Sarah Jessica Parker is playing the same annoying woman she’s always played, Raoul Bova is just playing a generic Italian love interest with but to be fair he isn’t really given any development, while Rosie Day is probably the most frustratingly bitchy and angsty teen character we’ve seen in years. But hey, if the script has her written as being this unlikeable then maybe Day is actually putting in a very good performance. Who knows? I don’t think it’s really worth putting too much thought into, is it? It’s probably best we forget this film ever happened. And fast.

Director Ella Lemhagen brings us what seems to be her first English-language film, after a long career in Sweden. Directing a screenplay that troublingly took two people to write, Josh Appignanesi and Cindy Myers, it’s hard to know who is mostly to blame for this film. While the script is unbearably formulaic and rammed with cliché, the direction isn’t remotely fresh or original either. Everything about this film screams out rom-com, and not in a good way. It’s getting right up in your face, pointing at itself and aggressively yelling “ROM-COM!” like a caveman, rather than just giving you a subtle wink from across a bar, confidently whispering “rom-com” to itself while it sips wine and flirtatiously plays with its hair…

But at the end of the day, films like this aren’t trying to earn good reviews, nor are they trying to entertain people like me. They’ve got their target audience in mind – people like my mother. My mother who, incidentally, liked the film. I guess that’s the point. In the same way that my mother probably wouldn’t give a rave review to something like The Godfather or Scarface, people like me are never going to enjoy films like this. We must co-exist with these films in peace and harmony. We must leave them alone, and let them entertain their target audiences.

Or we could say how shit they truly are. All Roads Lead To Rome is shit. Let’s just be glad that all roads don’t lead to this film. Get off at the next exit, and head back to happiness and joy before it’s too late. But if you do end up watching it, you could make a pretty fun drinking game out of it. Take a drink every time they play the same one piece of cheesy music in the soundtrack. You’ll be pissed long before the end. And then maybe you will be able to endure it.

All Roads Lead To Rome is a traumatising viewing experience. But if you like the genre, I guess you’ll enjoy it. I’ll give it 1/5 just to be polite.

Sam Love

All Roads Lead To Rome at CeX

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