Two men meet on a Sunday morning by chance on the banks of the Spree. The one wears women's clothes, comes from a club and has trouble with his friend. The other is only 16 years old, supposedly waiting to be picked up by his father, and does not know if he would rather kiss men or women. The Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke makes of this encounter a pretty, entertaining episode about Berlin as a laboratory for lifestyles.
In ten episodes “Berlin, I Love You” tries to portray the diversity and dynamism of the city. He is the fifth part of a series that began in 2006 with the film “Paris, je t'aime”. The concept is to tell love stories from the metropolises of this world. It comes from the French producer Emmanuel Benbihy, who plans more city portraits, including one about Shanghai.
The majority of the Berlin film was shot in 2017, an episode with the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei even in 2015. Not least the dispute over this episode, which was between the licensor Benbihy and German producers (SPIEGEL 32/19) and then always more circles moved, made sure that “Berlin, I Love You” only now comes to the movies.
The films about Paris and New York, featuring directors like the Coen brothers, Alfonso Cuarón or Fatih Akin and actors like Natalie Portman, Gérard Depardieu or Bradley Cooper, were potpourri of individual city views and tourist sightseeing. The Paris film rushed through all 20 arrondissements, he was a hop-on hop-off bus tour with no hop-off capability.
As much city as possible, as many stars as possible in about two hours – this general line was abandoned in the course of the series a bit. The German producers of the Berlin film have divided the city rather in milieus and subcultures, in the club culture, the political Berlin, the Berlin of the refugees. Then they searched for directors who are interested in the respective aspects of the city.
The car refuses
For example, Iranian-American director Massy Tadjedin filmed an episode about a young Brit (Keira Knightley), who takes care of refugees in the hangars of the former Tempelhof airport and one day receives a visit from her mother (Helen Mirren). Incidentally, Tadjedin also tells of the feeling of loneliness and emptiness that can suddenly strike you in this city.
Berlin has no clear identity, but is undergoing rapid change that nobody knows where to go. This city may be the ideal location to talk about people who are searching for a home, for love, for the purpose of their existence. Such seekers are populated by “Berlin, I Love You”.
“Berlin, I Love You”
director: Dianna Agron, Peter Chelsom, Fernando Eimbcke, Justin Franklin, Dennis Gansel, Dani Levy, Daniel Lwowski, Josef Rusnak, Massy Tadjedin, Til Schweiger, Gabriela Tscherniak
Book: Fernando Eimbcke, Justin Franklin, Dennis Gansel, Alison Kathleen Kelly, Dani Levy, Massy Tadjedin, Gabriela Tscherniak, David Vernon
Actor: Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Luke Wilson, Jim Sturgess, Ivan Rheon, Hayden Panettiere, Dianna Agron, Mickey Rourke
Production: Bily Media Berlin, Rheingold Films, Shotz Fiction Film (line production), Walk on Water Film Production, Getaway Pictures, Ever So Close
Rental: Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH
Rated: from age 6
Length: 120 minutes
Begin: August 8, 2019
A man, desperate with heartache, comes to Berlin to take his own life. He rents a car to drive himself to death. But the car not only drives independently, it also thinks independently and refuses to be used as a means to suicide. That's pretty funny. Is it typical Berlin? The car, which brings the man away from his gloomy thoughts, at least comes from Bavaria.
Each city consists of a few unique and many anonymous places. The fact that there are episodes in “Berlin, I Love You” that could as well play in another city lies in the nature of things. The problem is not that a bar in the movie looks like New York, Paris and Milan. Instead, she becomes the stage for the acting vanity of an actor like Mickey Rourke.
Ferres berlinert wild
“Berlin, I Love You” has hardly any problems with its locations, but rather with filling them adequately. A laundry is certainly a place where you can imagine many interesting encounters. But here he is the backdrop for a rather awkward episode, in which the # MeToo debate is taken up. A few women are talking about male assaults when a particularly boorish guy comes through the door.
This episode, which was written last year, looks like it should distract attention from the fact that the movie is basically two years old and Berlin has since evolved. But if Veronica Ferres in the role of the laundromat operator then also begins to wildly berlinern, just everything seems wrong and put on.
In the video: The trailer for “Berlin, I Love You”
The film is strong when it wants little, when it just watches two people in their conversations, like Eimbcke in his episode. Or when he roams the city through the eyes of a young visitor like a wonderland. But not infrequently he seems hollow, embarrassing or pretentious. Instead of juggling with the clichés he picks up, he keeps falling on his feet.