The third installment in the Cities of Love series–“New York, I Love You” and “Paris, Je T’aime” its predecessors–“Rio, I Love You” is an anthology, a love letter to its title city. A collection of several intersecting character stories, the film has various segments with each one directed by a different person, including Paulo Sorrentino and John Turturro, and stars well-known names like Emily Mortimer and Rodrigo Santoro. It’s visually beautiful and a little romanticized, but ultimately fails to capture the essence of the city. Boring and overly long, “Rio, I Love You” is superficial and is essentially a moving picture of beaches.
The film can be compared to a disheveled room. All the essentials are there, but it’s messy. Separated into segments and includes various characters coming from all walks of life: From tourists, locals, rich, poor, young, old, and…vampires (don’t ask because there are no explanations to be found for that one), all are used to pay homage to Rio. But the stories and characters themselves are clunky and so the homage to the actual city is lost in superficiality and shots of scenery that don’t really speak to the audience.
The shots of the city are gorgeous, but they’re not exactly anything we can’t look up on our own. The film lacks a certain spark and isn’t able to properly speak to the audience in a way which conveys the romanticism of Rio. The shorts that make up the overall film don’t flow well, either. One is about a shallow woman and her much older husband going to vacation there. We’re not sure exactly what the story is, but we can sense some turmoil. Another is of an Australian actor who has the time of day for no one until, on a whim, he spots the Sugar Loaf Mountain and decides to spontaneously climb it, dragging his driver with him. And another is about two dancers who are arguing about… something or other we can’t begin to really care for.
“Rio, I Love You” is dull and various segments don’t encapsulate the vibe and unique personality that Rio exudes. The shorts within the film are erratic and are never able to come together. There are bizarre stories and shallow stories and a couple of nice stories, but in the end, none of them feel like they mean what they should and if the city’s name had not been name-dropped every once in awhile, the film could have taken place anywhere else and no one would have known the difference.
"Rio, I Love You" is made up of segments that don't flow well. Overly long and boring, the film never truly captures the vibe and personality of its title city.