Latest outing by German Wunderkind Detlev Buck (“No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Jailbirds”) is his flashiest, most overproduced — and least funny — pic to date, though it rarely drags and consistently looks a treat on the bigscreen. A kind of updated “Guys und Dolls” without the songs, “Love Your Neighbor!” was a B.O. disappointment locally but is still marketable as an entertaining small-screen attraction offshore.
Croatian-born model Lea Mornar makes her feature debut as Lt. Josephine, a novice Salvation Army worker sent with bespectacled colleague Lt. Isolde (Heike Makatsch) to save souls in big, bad Berlin, where the mission house is a Dickensian hellhole inhabited by drunks and layabouts. They soon meet Tristan (Moritz Bleibtreu), a devilish, all-powerful management consultant who bets he can bed Josephine before she can say “Hallelujah!”
Film has a fairy-tale quality enhanced by its musicand its overall look: Berlin is a seething mass of money, corruption and suicide-jumpers that’s perpetually swept by smoke effects and violent winds. Perfs are broad and lusty, which is initially enjoyable but increasingly yields lower results on the laugh meter, especially in the final reels.
Even if it eventually becomes an end in itself, Joachim Berc’s cinematography is the last word in high gloss and light play, with Mornar caressed by the camera in and out of her uniform and Bleibtreu looking moody and satanic in his black designer wear. Running time is tight, with only minimal sag in the latter stages.