The roster of stars and directors in Rio, I Love You, an omnibus of shorts set in and celebrating the Brazilian city, is impressive. John Turturro, Emily Mortimer, Vincent Cassell, Vanessa Paradis, Harvey Keitel, Fernanda Montenegro in front of the camera. Turturro, Stephan Elliott, Paolo Sorrentino, Fernando Meirelles, Nadine Labaki, writer Guillermo Arriaga, and others behind it.
But if the beauty of Rio de Janeiro is jaw-dropping, so, too, is the slipshod manner in which the aforementioned talents go about their business there. A sequel of sorts to the anthology pics Paris, je t'aime and New York, I Love You, the tertiarily connected episodes of Rio, I Love You ramble, shamble, and perambulate, rarely amounting to anything at all.
There is whimsy (a vampire waiter), there is domestic upheaval (couples fighting, couples sulking), there are a one-armed boxer, a homeless woman, and a street urchin who thinks he has Jesus on the phone at the train station.
Keitel plays an actor not unlike himself, making a movie in which he portrays a priest (the first time we see him, he's in a passionate kiss with a nun). Wagner Moura hang-glides above Rio's iconic Christ statue, listing the woes of the host city for the coming Summer Olympics. A cabbie (Michel Melamed) shares the photo of the woman whom he loves, and who has left him, with every fare who climbs in the car.
What's it all about, Alfonso?
About tourism (despite the hang-glider's rant). About serious moviemakers glomming some serious vacation time. About 10 minutes shy of two hours.