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Review: Stars don't align for uneven ‘Berlin, I Love You’

Review: Stars don't align for uneven ‘Berlin, I Love You’
Keira Knightley and Liam Gross in the movie "Berlin, I Love You." (Martin Nicholas Kunz / Saban Films)

Part of the same “Cities in Love” itinerary that previously included stops in Paris, New York and Rio, the wildly uneven anthology “Berlin, I Love You” exhibits telltale signs of jet lag.

The format, like the others in the series, groups together intersecting stories directed by international filmmakers — here including England’s Peter Chelsom, Switzerland’s Dani Levy, Iran’s Massy Tajedin and Germany’s Til Schweiger — whose vignettes theoretically capture the flavor of the destination in question.

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Given Berlin’s fractured past and Germany’s immigration challenges in the Angela Merkel present, the locale certainly lends itself to themes of identity and tolerance, but the majority of the episodes prove to be anonymously dispensable.

For every poignant keeper (Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley play a mother and daughter who take a young Arab refugee under their wing in Tajedin’s “Under Your Feet”) there’s a clunker (Mickey Rourke attempts to bed younger woman Toni Garrn who, spoiler alert, turns out to be his long-lost daughter in the Schweiger-directed, Neil LaBute-penned “Love Is in the Air.”).

Then there’s the decision to have German characters speak in English rather than allowing them to converse in their native tongue, which creates additional authenticity issues.

Landing after 2016’s disappointing Rio installment, the film’s end-credits announcement of Los Angeles as its next stop somehow makes one hope for a fly-over.

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‘Berlin, I Love You’

Rated: R, for language, some sexual content and brief nudity

Running time: 2 hours

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD

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