Movie review of “Rio, I Love You”: Ten directors worked on this disappointing anthology about modern Rio de Janeiro. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.
The 1953 collection “Love in the City” gave Fellini, Antonioni and other directors the chance to explore short-story possibilities set in Rome. The Coen brothers (and others) took on the anthology format in “Paris je t’aime” (2006).
Now it’s Rio’s turn. “Rio, I Love You” takes 10 directors to tell 10 romantic stories, although they’re more like fragments of stories that drift toward each other with dreamlike forward movement.
At first the emphasis on celebrities suggests a fascination with marquee names in front of and behind the cameras. Harvey Keitel turns up as an actor whose dark glasses don’t hide the fact that he’s pretending to be a priest. (He makes a dopey in-joke about “Goodfellas” that’s directed at the cameras.)
Movie Review ★½
‘Rio, I Love You,’ with Harvey Keitel, Ryan Kwanten, Fernanda Montenegro, John Turturro. Various directors and screenwriters. 110 minutes. Rated R for language and brief sexuality/nudity. In English and Portuguese, with English subtitles. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
Ryan Kwanten, the hunky Australian star of “True Blood,” turns up as a teen idol weary of hysterical girl fans. He escapes by taking his chatty tour guide on a climbing trip to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
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Fernanda Montenegro, the Oscar-nominated star of 1998’s Brazilian breakthrough “Central Station,” appears as a homeless woman who loves to bathe in public fountains and brush her teeth in them.
John Turturro, listed as a writer, actor and director on the project, has a self-consciously bitchy scene with a woman who insists that “We had something — and you blew it.”
This could also describe “Rio, I Love You,” which is stuffed with touristy images but not enough dramatic substance to make any of them count. Characters come and go, they play tricks on each other on the beaches, they swoon over the sunsets. The final effect suggests all the depth of a Chamber of Commerce ad campaign.