April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Berlin, I Love You

Lionsgate, 120 min., R, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $21.99, Apr. 9

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

This latest entry in the “Cities of Love” series lacks the pervasive sense of place that informed previous installments set in Paris, New York, and Rio. An anthology film comprised of 10-12 minute episodes from a variety of writers and directors, the movie opens with an animated collage depicting elements of Berlin’s history before proceeding to a recurrent sketch about a street performer gradually falling for a newly-arrived singer. Between the stages of their romantic journey, other vignettes feature Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley as a mother and daughter who take in a refugee child; Mickey Rourke playing a man who picks up a much younger woman in a bar and confesses his sadness at never having gotten to know his own daughter; Jim Sturgess as a young man whose talking car teaches him about commitment; Luke Wilson as a burned-out movie director renewed by meeting a pretty young puppeteer; and Diego Luna in the role of a transgender woman who talks with a teen boy about sexuality. Some of the other segments break out into elaborate song-and-dance routines, while the big finale assembles many of the characters from earlier episodes at an outdoor event. Berlin, I Love You sports occasional flashes of wit and melancholy, but the writing would have to be more consistent to make this film a necessary stop on anyone’s cinematic itinerary. Not recommended. (F. Swietek)