When in Rome

  • 2010-05-05
  • By Michael Litvinsky

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

In the last couple of years, so-called New York comedies (romantic comedies taking place in New York) have developed themselves into an independent genre, widely presented among U.S. movie production. It is interesting that “When in Rome,” despite its title, is a classic representative of this genre. It becomes even more interesting when you take into consideration the fact that the last two movies Johnson directed were “Daredevil” and “The Ghost Rider” - movies that someone might have found funny in some manner, but that are far from what we actually call “a comedy.”

At first sight, the plot seems paranormal - Beth a young, ambitious New Yorker, who has a tendency to put her work before her love life, after a whirlwind trip to Rome, impulsively steals some coins from a reputed fountain of love. As a result, on return she finds herself pursued by five men who    threw these coins in the fountain, and because of some magic (or a curse), have fallen in love with her. Still, if you put aside all the magical stuff, you might notice that the story looks like a typical love triangle, only here we have a love pentagon with the main character in the center instead. A simple story wrapped up in a fancy cover is also a good way to bring some attention to your movie.

The biggest mistake by Johnson is that, after making two action movies in a row, he wanted to make something much lighter, feverish, and much less serious, and so he tried too hard. By adding a little more drama he could have gotten something really moving and emotional; instead, by cramming the movie with an inappropriate amount of physical comedy (falling, hitting and breaking things), he completely killed all the romance in the movie.
The romance wasn’t saved by some nice shots of a “never sleeping” New York and the sunny city of love - Rome - by the experienced director of photography John Bailey. A scene with Kristen Bell running after a casino chip is filmed beautifully and is really worth watching, though. 

So, simplicity and lightness is what “When in Rome” is able to give the viewer. Simplicity in everything – the plot, acting, and directing.

Now showing in all three countries.


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