There's no comedy quite like the comedy of cultural misunderstanding. And in One Day In Europe, German director Hannes Stöhr gives us four such examples with separate, but thematically linked stories set in Moscow, Istanbul, Berlin and Santiago de Compostela on one single day. This is a funny, heartfelt film, and its panoramic sweep across Europe feels curiously, satisfyingly intimate.
Excellent casting and narrative craft are at the heart of this movie's success. Stöhr's skill as a story-teller means that his four brief stories - though hardly momentous - capture the attention completely. There's German student Rocco (Florian Lukas) who fakes a mugging to swindle his insurance and then suicidal Hungarian Gabor (Péter Scherer), on a pilgrimage around Europe's cathedrals. From Kate, a bitchy English businesswoman in Moscow who becomes reliant on eccentric old local, Elena (Ludmila Tsvetkova) to guide her to the police after she is robbed in Moscow, to French street performers Claude (Boris Arquier) and Rachida (Rachida Brakni), stranded in Berlin and unable to speak German, we revisit themes of cultural crossfire and miscommunication, trust among strangers, and the flowering of brief, unlikely friendships.
"TOUCHING, FUNNY MOMENTS"
What really fascinates Stöhr, it seems, is the idea of Europe; will it ever work, he wonders, or are Berliners, Parisians, and Muscovites forever to be strangers to one another? Perhaps football - all eyes are turned, on this day, to the Champion's League Final in Moscow - is the mutual enthusiasm that can unify us? Still, this is a movie full of touching, funny moments; just see the brilliant scene in which Elena eagerly foists Russian vodka and pickles on a bewildered Kate. It's those warm-hearted, human instants, here, that cause these four stories to become much more than the sum of their parts.
In German with English subtitles.