Berlin, I Love You is the latest in a series of city-centric anthologies, following 2006’s Paris, je t’aime and 2008’s New York, I Love You. There are some differences, though. For starters, Berlin isn’t quite as iconic as those two cities, effectively demonstrated in the film’s animated introduction that includes not one, but two, quotes from American presidents (you can probably guess which two).
But the larger issue is that where Paris recruited directors like Olivier Assayas, Alfonso Cuarón and the Coens and New York featured Mira Nair, Natalie Portman and, uh, Brett Ratner, Berlin, I Love You’s biggest directing names you’ve likely only heard from their acting credits, whether Glee’s Diana Agron or Inglorious Basterds’ Til Schweiger (Hugo Stiglitz).
The end result is an uneven, uncompelling collection of stories that do little to showcase memorable filmmaking nor Berlin itself. The earliest standalone story – of a suicidal man falling in love with his car – had me cringing as it tilted towards BMW product placement, but proved to be one of the best episodes, with legitimate good humour and a sense of place lacking in most of what followed. This should make you want to visit Berlin …not avoid it altogether.