The Eternal City tells the story of two American men in Rome and their collective quest to make a film and win the heart of a beautiful Italian girl.
When Jonny arrives from Philadelphia to seek out his summer fling he stumbles upon three new companions: Jesse, a filmmaker from New York; Angela, Jesse’s beautiful pianist girlfriend and Pablo, Angela’s piano teacher. But their relationships turn turbulent when a love triangle begins to emerge.
Set against the backdrop of Rome with beautiful cinematography and honest and undeniable characters, The Eternal City is a comi-drama that shows it is our human instinct to find love - no matter what the consequence.
In contrast to well-worn scenarios, co-directors Arianna De Giorgi and Jason Goodman's transatlantic The Eternal City is a quirky comedy that feels almost made up as it goes along—resulting in something perilously slight yet disarming and funny. Its protagonist is a Philly youth who's come to Rome in search of the girl he fell in love with in Paris. When it turns out her attention span has already snapped, he ends up staying with her neighbors, an aspiring concert pianist and her American filmmaker boyfriend (Goodman himself). There's a vintage-Jarmuschy feel to the proceedings, not least because the film is much enhanced by being in B&W.
Dennis Harvey - San Francisco Film Society (Mar 8, 2008)
First up was "The Eternal City", shot by Americans in Rome and about Rome. It's a beautiful movie which I had a hard time summing up until Cinequest icon Chris Garcia gave me the line, 'Fellini's "There's Something About Mary"'. Brilliant line, but just so you know this movie does not have gross-out humor. What it does have is a lot of heart, a beautiful look (converting it to black and white really makes it work), interesting characters, and a fun, leisurely story. Jonny, from Philadelphia, comes to Rome to visit the girl he met last summer in Paris. Unfortunately, she's cruel and won't even let him into her apartment. In the morning, he meets the upstairs neighbor, Jess (from New York), who lets him at least take a nap in his apartment--or rather his girlfriend Angela's apartment. Angela is obsessed with her dreams, Jonny knows how to read dreams (or at least bullshit about them). Jess is kind of a slob, but also an aspiring filmmaker with a series of documentary shorts about Rome. He shows them his short "The Wild Cranes of Rome"--not about birds, about construction cranes. He's trying to get Werner Herzog to do the voiceover (good freakin' choice!) Anyway, Jesse, Angela, and Jonny start to form a bit of a love triangle, while also trying to make Jesse's epic "The Taking of Corsica", starring Johnny (it's been trimmed down a bit from the original epic script). Throw into all this an eccentric 4-fingered Argentinian piano teacher Pablo (who celebrates a birthday in the film--it fits the Cinequest theme!) who becomes obsessed with building a piano from scratch (which was the family business back in Argentina). Whew! You can see why I had trouble summing it up. I'll let 'Fellini's "There's Something About Mary"' sum it up. I didn't want to be the one audacious enough to reference Fellini while describing this film, but since I've already quoted Chris saying that, I'll second that.
Jason Watches Movies - jasonwatchesmovies blogspot (Mar 9, 2008)
An Eternal City Films production. Produced by Daniela Remiddi, Laura Remiddi, Gabriele De Giorgi. Executive producer, Vincenzo Ianni. Directed, written by Arianna De Giorgi, Jason Goodman.
With: Joe Iacovino, Giulia Steigerwalt, Jason Goodman, Pablo Gasparri, Miriam Candurro.
Shot in color but processed in crisp B&W -- thus recalling the glory days of Italian art cinema -- low-budget lark "The Eternal City" echoes classic ’80s Amerindie quirks despite plentiful local color. Tale of a love-besotted Philly lad intruding on a young Roman couple ingratiates even if character depth and story heft might best be called breezy. Not since Jim Jarmusch’s early heyday have pics this willfully slender rustled much theatrical interest. But it should win fest-circuit friends while raising its principals’ profiles. Modest DVD and Euro tube placements are possible.
Luggage lost and sleep-deprived, Johnny (Joe Iacovino) shows up in Rome to court a girl he’d fallen for in Paris. Neighbors Angela (Giulia Steigerwalt), an aspiring classical pianist, and her live-in Yank b.f. Jesse (Jason Goodman, who wrote and directed with Arianna De Giorgi), take him in, at first reluctantly, then with a warmth that borders on menage-a-trois. Ebullient, hotheaded Johnny shoehorns his way into Jesse’s filmmaking dreams, drawing in the couple’s older piano-tuning friend (Pablo Gasparri). Loose production sports plenty of raffish comic charm, with lensing and soundtrack choices sharp on slim means.
Dennis Harvey - Variety (Mar 16, 2008)
A young man impulsively chasing a romance falls into an unconventional relationship with two strangers in this independent drama. Johnny (Joe Iacovino) is a twenty-something guy from Philadelphia who has been bumming though Europe, and after falling in love with a woman he met in France, he follows her to Italy, only to find himself stranded in Rome. Needing somewhere to stay, the woman's next-door neighbor, a fellow American expatriate named Jesse (Jason Goodman), allows Johnny to spend a few days sleeping on his couch. Aspiring filmmaker Jesse shares his apartment with his lover Angela (Giulia Steigerwalt), a local girl who dreams of a career as a concert pianist. Jesse becomes fast friends with Johnny and persuades him to star in his latest no-budget production about the life of Napoleon, while Angela finds herself less attracted to Jesse and more fascinated with their new boarder. The Eternal City was the first feature film from the directorial team of Arianna De Giorgi and Jason Goodman.
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Mark Deming - All Movie (Apr 18, 2008)
The toast of the Denver International Film Festival, The Eternal City,
is criminally undistributed. It explores relationships with a pinch of
bitterness, two tablespoons of honesty and an entire stick of
enthusiasm (or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Enthusiasm). The Eternal City
is an original heartfelt journey through the post-college coming-of-age
landscape. In the immortal words of myself, its like a Fellini film
with more t-shirts. (Note: If you missed this film at the festival, the
only chance you may have to see is if you call up your rich film
executive uncle and tell him to break out the checkbook.)
Fritz Godard - Donny Brook Academy (Jan 26, 2009)
Jonny comes to "the eternal city," Rome, to stay with the love of his life, whom he met in Paris, only to find that to her, he was just a one-night fling. Stranded in beautiful Rome and with his luggage missing, he has nowhere to go and no one to turn to until a chance encounter with another tenant in the apartment building changes his fortune--and everyone else's.
Jonny meets Jesse, a fellow from New York who just happens to know a relative of Jonny's. Taking pity on Jonny, Jesse invites him up to his flat where Jesse's girlfriend, Angela, is none too thrilled to find a male stranger in her apartment. But soon enough, Angela becomes intrigued by Jonny, who seems to be able to explain Angela's strange dreams. Along with Angela's nine-fingered piano teacher, Pablo, the four embark on an adventure to get Jesse's first feature film made. As things begin to go awry, the friendship between the four characters is soon tested.
Co-writer and co-director Jason Goodman gives a fine understated performance as Jesse, a young man who is driven to single-mindedness to make a film. He wants to make this film so badly that he has become neglectful of his longtime live-in girlfriend Angela and her personal and professional desires. As he explains to Jonny, "We don't believe in marriage," oblivious to Angela's real feelings on the subject. It isn't until near the end of the film that Jesse changes from laid-back to passionate, but by then it's too late as his dreams become an obsession and he shows his true colors.
For her part, Giulia Steigerwalt plays the lovely and sensitive Angela, a young woman desperate to make a name for herself playing the piano but haunted by both her lover's seeming ignorance of her needs as well as a series of strange dreams she is having. She is supportive of Jesse as he works to make his own desires come true while simultaneously hoping that he will notice that she too has desires. Steigerwalt is beautiful and beguiling in a role perfectly suited to her.
Jonny (Joe Iacovino) is the polar opposite of Jesse and Angela. A little wild, he has sold the family business to follow his true love to Rome only to get dumped at her doorstep. He first appears at the apartment building, lonely, disheveled, and sick. Jesse and Angela are immediately captivated by this loud, brash, young man whom they hardly know but shortly settles into their little apartment--and their lives-- very comfortably. Jonny helps Angela figure out her dreams and he also pays attention to her and compliments her on her piano playing, something Jesse never does. But at the same time, he encourages Jesse to make his film epic, going so far as to help rewrite the screenplay and volunteer to star in the film. Iacovino nails his characterization of Jonny, who lives his life out loud and isn't afraid to display his emotions.
Then there is Pablo (played by Pablo Gaspari), Angela's piano instructor. Himself an accomplished player, Pablo is haunted by a car crash that simultaneously ended his family's generations-old piano construction business while robbing him of the ability to play his beloved instrument. He sees himself as a young man in Angela and works with her daily to help her achieve her goals.
The Eternal City has been described as "Fellini-esque," and I would have to agree with that statement. The film is quirky and gently humorous with characters that are often impulsive and free-wheeling, all traits of Fellini films. Woody Allen also sprang to mind while watching the film. The dream sequences are bizarre and fun and directors Goodman and Arianna De Giorgi have enough faith in themselves to not ruin these unique sequences by falling back on some cheap cinematic trick that announces each dream sequence. The result is that the viewer is left a little off kilter until they figure out that what they saw was one of Angela's dreams. This gives the film a surreal quality in places that I enjoyed immensely.
Directors Goodman and De Giorgi show great skill as they balance each character's crisis with the others, especially the budding romance between Jonny and Angela, which happens almost accidentally. Also particularly good are the scenes in which Pablo tells his story of how he became a piano teacher and what he is now doing as he seeks redemption. The film is touching and sensitive with a perfect blend of light humor mixed with a bit of melancholy in each character. The film itself is in crisp, clear black-and-white, occasionally punctuated by color scenes, and has a minimal but wonderful soundtrack. The title song of "Julia" is catchy and enjoyable.
If you are looking for a light-hearted comedy/drama with a little romance thrown in for good measure, you can't miss with this gem of a film. Recommended.