Rio, I Love You

Producer Emmanuel Benbihy launched the Cities of Love film series a decade ago, beginning with Paris, Je T’Aime in 2006 and New York, I Love You in 2008. Each feature-length film strings together multiple shorts by different directors, and the third installment sticks to the same recipe, booking a flight to the picturesque city of Rio de Janeiro.

In Rio, I Love You, Benbihy recruits directors Andrucha Waddington, Paolo Sorrentino, Frenando Meirelles, Stephan Elliott, John Turturro, Guillermo Arriaga, Sang Soo Im, Carlos Saldanha, José Padilha, and Nadine Labaki to each helm a short tale of love. As can be expected, some shorts are considerably stronger than others, and Labaki’s “The Miracle,” featuring Harvey Keitel, is a particular highlight, following two international actors and a young boy who believes he has Jesus’ direct telephone number. Less successful are shorts like Turturro’s “When There Is No More Love,” which is basically just 10 minutes of Vanessa Paradis lip synching to one of her own songs, and Sorrentino’s “La Fortuna,” which casts Emily Mortimer as a bitter and nagging trophy wife.

Vincente Amorim weaves each short together with lots of sweeping panoramas of the city, and the end result feels less like a collection of love stories and more like a bland tourism ad. (The only short with any, um, teeth is Sang Soo Im’s bizarre tale of an elderly vampire waiter and the prostitute he’s in love with.) The shots of Rio’s scenic vistas are captivating. The shorts’ actual storylines are less so. C-

Rio, I Love You
  • Movie
  • 98 minutes