Perhaps the smallest scale franchise in the business is the “I Love You” anthology of films. Each installment in what’s called the “Cities of Love” franchise looks at romantic stories centered in one town. Paris, je t’aime started it off, with New York, I Love You and Rio, I Love You coming next in line. Now, this week brings Berlin, I Love You to screens. Unfortunately, while the first two efforts had lots of charm and offered more good segments than bad, the inverse is true here. Too much of the story is easy to dismiss and forgettable. For the first time, you don’t ever get a sense of why this is a place to love, or why someone might fall in love there.
This movie is, as mentioned above, the latest installment of the Cities of Love / “I Love You” anthology series. Obviously, it’s centered in Berlin, with ten stories of love and romance taking place within German capital. A framing device of sorts involving a busker named Sara (Rafaëlle Cohen) and a performance artist named Damiel (Robert Stadlober) melds with a whole bunch of anonymous stories that frankly, could have been set anywhere. These feature the likes of Dianna Agron, Jenna Dewan, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sylvester Groth, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Le Bon, Diego Luna, Helen Mirren, Hayden Panettiere, Mickey Rourke, Jim Sturgess, and Luke Wilson. The directors this time around are Dianna Agron, Peter Chelsom, Fernando Eimbcke, Justin Franklin, Dennis Gansel, Dani Levy, Daniel Lwowski, Josef Rusnak, Til Schweiger, Massy Tadjedin, and Gabriela Tscherniak, with Alison Kathleen Kelly and David Vernon joining in to co-write with Eimbcke, Franklin, Gansel, Levy, Tadjedin, and Tscherniak. Cinematography is by Kolja Brandt, while David Hason composes the score.
The franchise has been suffering lately, and this film is further evidence of that. The series started with inspiration, but that’s gone. This anthology effort is too long, offers too little, and seems like a largely wasted opportunity. There are charms and pleasant moments here and there, as well as talented actors operating in a nice key, but it’s hardly enough. The writers and directors aren’t as impressive as usual, but the cast is, making this even more of a disappointment. They’re doing their part, but the support just really isn’t there. The movie is never a trying experience, but the sense that we could have had something better permeates nearly every single frame.
There is still lots of potential here, going forward. Myriad locations remain to be mined, with tons of filmmakers up for taking part in the projects. The prior installments have gone to New York City, Paris, and Rio, with future efforts rumored to be in Dehli, Jerusalem, Marseille, New Orleans, and Shanghai. At least some of those sound positively delightful. The Cities of Love franchise still has road ahead of it paved with possibilities. They’ve just hit a real bump with this latest one. Perhaps you could say that the series is now at a crossroads? Time will tell where it goes from here.
As of yesterday, Berlin, I Love You is out in release, so if you’ve liked the previous entries, this is something to look for. It’s the least interesting effort yet, but the Cities of Love franchise is still going strong, and that might be all you need to hear. Ultimately, while you definitely can do better this weekend, you certainly can also do worse. Make of this flick what you will. If you’re into it, you know where to find it. If not, pay it no mind. One just hopes that a future installment can recapture the early magic that was found within these tales…
Berlin, I Love You is in theaters now!