The third film in the loosely connected Cities of Love series, Rio, I Love You! brings together a set of international directors for an anthology celebrating the lives and loves of Rio de Janeiro.
The previous films in this series focussed on other great metropolises in the world, such as Paris and New York. In terms of vistas alone, Rio certainly holds its own when placed alongside these other cities – there are so many sweeping shots of the bay and surrounds where Rio is located. The camera takes full advantage of it. It is a truly beautiful place. Whatever Rio tourism board dollars ended up in this film were worth every penny, as I now want to visit there.
Spectacular views aside, this film is an anthology series, bringing together directors from Brazil (of course), but also Australia, South Korea, Lebanon, and others. Each of them get roughly 10 minutes to play with, and they cover a range of themes. Romance is often a central theme, but there are also mildly religious, political, and social themes. Also, one story concerns a vampire.
The anthology nature of this film is a two-edged sword – on the one hand, none of the stories go into any great depth. On the flip side, if you aren’t enjoying a story, fear not, another will be along shortly. This ends up translating to a broad series of images that seldom stay with you – the three that stay with me the most are the largely silent short that focussing on a woman’s feet, a story following a homeless woman’s day and, again, there’s a vampire one.
The international flavour of the direction extends to the cast as well, with several familiar faces throughout the course of the film, as well as several local actors. The film also switches liberally between Portuguese to English, giving the film a truly cosmopolitan quality. Despite the singular location, it feels worldly, international – presumably this also reflects an aspect of the city as well? That is certainly the impression the film gives.
All in all, Rio, I Love You! is a beautiful looking film that takes good advantage of its setting, but whose actual story content leaves little impact. If you’d like to lose yourself in a truly gorgeous location, Rio is a decent use of a couple of hours.
Reviewed by Brendan Whittaker
Rating out of 10: 6
Rio, I Love You! will be released on DVD from 21 September 2016.