Review: Romance lost in 'Berlin, I Love You'

Anthology film combines 10 short stories but failes to leave its mark

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
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Keira Knightley in "Berlin, I Love You."

A scattered tribute to the German city which bears its name, "Berlin, I Love You" isn't worth the trip. 

The fourth film in the "Cities of Love" series, following installments in Paris, New York and Rio, "Berlin, I Love You" combines 10 short stories about characters in Berlin from 10 different directors, none of which make or leave an impression.

There's the one about a social worker (Keira Knightley) who against the wishes of her mother (Helen Mirren), brings home a child because he has nowhere else to go. Or the one about the filmmaker (Luke Wilson), fed up with being asked to make a sequel to his latest blockbuster, rediscovers his passion for the arts after meeting a puppeteer (Dianna Argon). Or the one where a smooth-talker (Mickey Rourke) picks up a girl in his hotel bar (Toni Garrn) who may or may not be his daughter.

(That last installment is the most throwing of the bunch, both for thematic reasons and because Rourke's exaggerated features tend to overshadow everything else around him.)

Throughout the film, viewers are never given a real sense of Berlin, other than it's a place where drifters show up to find themselves and strangers are always meeting in whimsical ways.  

"Is this typical Berlin?" an out-of-towner asks a resident in one of the vignettes. "No," a man replies, "nothing's typical Berlin."

So what is it then? "Berlin, I Love You" feels like a dumping ground for short stories that didn't otherwise have a home. A love letter to a city should at least be so in love with its location that it sweeps you off your feet and makes you want to go there. "Berlin" fails to make a proper case for Berlin.

'Berlin, I Love You'


Rated R: for language, some sexual content and brief nudity

Running time: 120 minutes


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