Rio, I Love You


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Rio, I Love You
"It's so scattershot that one finds oneself inventing titles for the 'stories' within the anthology."

Rio I Love You is a film baffling in construction and execution. It is gorgeous, it has an incredible cast, but it is also a product of a process that means that there are three credits that talk about it being "based on..." a "...premise", "...concept" and "...franchise". In fact, let us check the website:

"Cities of Love Platforms spread the wonderfulness of cities, making their citizens proud, and they show love "in" and "for" cities through multiple activations financed by brands eager to contribute and make change."

Copy picture

"Multiple activations financed by brands" in the case of of Rio Eu Te Amo includes support in some form from Fiat, Unilever, and Santander. There isn't the ostentatious Breitling watching of Bond, say, or only the protagonists having access to Apple products, or co-operation of the US Department of Defense that made Top Gun so critical of executive intervention, but the money is on the screen nonetheless, even at the start as the logos of production company after collaborator after film body roll by and the Fiat badge and the Santander stripe and the Unilever splodge show face.

"Multiple activations", or vignettes, or ostensibly short films inter-cut and boosted by footage of the hills and mountains of Rio that's genuinely stunning, giving a real sense as to how complex the city's geography really is with its inlets and beaches and peaks and valleys and not terribly well served by anything else.

It's so scattershot that one finds oneself inventing titles for the 'stories' within the anthology: Overwrought Ballet Shadowplay and Sex Life Of The Vampire Waiter and Harvey Keitel In An Adventure With An Urchin Who Was Awaiting A Return Telephone Call From Jesus Christ The Son Of God With Whom A Message Has Been Left, or trying to figure out tourist slogans based on the events depicted like try our dangerous beaches or engage with our surly drivers or employ our prostitutes or being homeless is cheaper. They do actually have titles of their own, shown at the end when the various casts and directors get little moments in the credits which illustrate pieces of the making of - not, admittedly, the grim procession of figures across a landscape of spreadsheet cells, nor the rounds of telephone calls to agents (who, if I recall correctly, are thanked along with 'talent managers' in the credits) - no, it's the sunny process of filming, laughs, smiles, humans, not managerial automatons who are being multiply activated.

There are some Ballardian highlights in the melange, the abandoned high-rise roof-top drained-swimming-pool underground fighting competitions that characterise 'Texas' The One Armed Pugilist give a strong set of locations to a strong story, and the spirit quest to the top of Sugar Loaf by an invented celebrity in I Am Like A Shark is an entertaining trip, but even Harvey Keitel explaining that he wasn't in Goodfellas to a man with Chekov's Hang-Glider on the roof-rack isn't enough to elevate the rest.

There's a bit with John Turturro and Vanessa Paradis that contains lines like "the world is fucked and we're in it baby" that he probably wouldn't deliver as confidently if he hadn't written them himself, and ends with her singing a song that contains a line referring to "blood perjuries" and a lot of swearing which is pretty odd. In fact, there's quite a lot of swearing which might be edgy or integral to the art but seems almost like it is trying to avoid being described as conservatively platitudinous by virtue of vice. Nudity too, and a bit of violence, and some murder, and to its credit it's not relentlessly ableist or heteronormative but one of the songs asks "but what for?" and that's the real question.

Apparently there's already been one for Paris and New York, and the website suggests that there's one coming for Tblisi this year or so, but this is just odd. Directors like Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros) and Stephan Elliot (Priscilla Queen of The Desert) and Paulo Sorrentino (This Must Be The Place) are a quarter of the dozen involved, many also write but one doesn't know how much of each of the multiple activations were written as they appear before they were edited in and among each other, but it doesn't matter, because while watching this one wonders how and why it was made and once one knows some details thereof one is left no less baffled.

The film does exert the same kind of pull as the FIFA hagiography, and it's so unhinged that it's reminiscent of Jodorowsky or Lynch but while theirs is a cohesive vision this is a fractured mess. Put it like this - in this movie, Vincent Cassel rides a cable-car and then punches a sandcastle. Or, rather, a recognisable international facial asset is transported by an externally-powered two-axis suspended conveyance and, after an encounter mediated by a tiled beach-side walkway characterised by a pedal fixation aided by a series of sonic effects, is driven to activate its manipular appendages in a repetitive process that renders a silicate sculpture inutile, which does count as both a contribution and a change. You're not going to see that anywhere other than Rio I Love You, but you're probably not going to see it at all.

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2015
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Rio, I Love You packshot
A series of short films set in the Brazilian metropolis.

Director: Vicente Amorim, Guillermo Arriaga, Stephan Elliott, Sang-soo Im, Nadine Labaki, Fernando Meirelles, José Padilha, Carlos Saldanha, Paolo Sorrentino, John Turturro, Andrucha Waddington, César Charlone

Writer: Andrucha Waddington, Mauricio Zacharias, Paolo Sorrentino, Antonio Prata, Chico Mattoso, Stephan Elliott, John Turturro, Guillermo Arriaga, Sang-soo Im, Elena Soarez, Otavio Leonidio, Nadine Labaki, Rodney El Haddad, Khaled Mouzannar, Fellipe Barbosa

Starring: Basil Hoffman, Emily Mortimer, Rodrigo Santoro, Bruna Linzmeyer, Nadine Labaki, Harvey Keitel, Cláudia Abreu, Fernanda Montenegro, Eduardo Sterblitch, Hugo Carvana, Michel Melamed, Vincent Cassel, Marcio Garcia, Marcelo Serrado, Ryan Kwanten

Year: 2014

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Brazil, US


EIFF 2015

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