Dir/scr: Hannes Stohr.Ger-Sp. 2005. 101mins.
The idea, at least, is promising: four mini-stories set in four Europeancities, all playing out against the background of a major internationalfootball match. But in the end there's something frustratingly inconclusiveabout One Day In Europe, Hannes Stohr's follow-up to Berlin Is InGermany, which won the Panorama audience award at the 2001 Berlinale.
Though there are flashes ofhumour, and the writer-director has some perceptive things to say about the waynational stereotypes are broken down (or occasionally reinforced) by directcontact, the four stories lack cohesion, and the whole thing feels more like awhimsical co-production exercise than a serious Berlinale competitioncontender.
Distribution in German-languageterritories is assured, and the film should be given at least a cursory releasein the other three location territories (Russia, Turkey, Spain); but elsewherethis is going to be a difficult sell.
It's the night of the(fictitious) Champion's League Final between Turkish team Galatasaray andSpanish side Deportivo La Coruna, which is taking place in Moscow. And in fourEuropean cities, characters who don't much care for football are getting thingsstolen - or pretending to.
In the first episode anEnglish art dealer (Gay) gets mugged by armed robbers who are in league with adishonest taxi driver. In the second, set in Istanbul, a German Ossi (from theformer East) pretends to be the victim of a mugging in order to profit from theinsurance payout.
Over in Santiago deCompostela, a Hungarian pilgrim (Scherer) who has walked all the way to thisholy Catholic shrine has his camera stolen by a guy he gave it to - in order totake a picture of him at his journey's end. And in Berlin, two down-on-their-luckFrench street performers (Brakni and Arquier) decide to run their own "we'vebeen mugged" insurance scam to improve their earnings.
The best episode in thisEuro-lucky-dip is Istanbul: cultural assumptions are put to the test inchallenging ways in this meeting between scamming German student Rokko (Lukas)and taxi driver Celal (Yildiz), who has worked in Germany. Here it's the Germanwho's dishonest, the Turk scrupulously honest - though he believes more instreet justice than the state-administered variety.
It also has the film's bestone-liner, when Celal tells a morose policeman "If you treat him like that, howdo you expect to get into the EU'" Most of the actors (with the exception ofLuis Tosar, making a guest cameo as a Deportivo supporter) are B- or C-list,but the performances are solid enough, the photography adequate, theelectro-skank soundtrack pleasant enough.
What loses the audience isthe growing irrelevance of the football backdrop. Though the game buildsprogressively, episode by episode, to a tense penalty shoot-out, this is anartificial way of giving four disparate episodes the plot tension of afull-length feature, and in the end the game serves no more useful purpose thanto distract policemen in four countries.
Prod cos: Moneypenny Filmproduktion, Filmanove, ZDF/Arte,Television de Galicia
Int'l sales: Beta Cinema
Prods: Anne Leppin, SigridHoerner
Cine: Florian Hoffmeister
Prod des: Andreas Olshausen
Ed: Anne Fabini
Music: Florian Appl
Main cast: Megan Gay, LudmilaTsvetkova, Florian Lukas, Erdal Yildiz, Peter Scherer, Miguel de Lira, RachidaBrakni, Boris Arquier