After “Night on Earth,” wake up to “One Day in Europe.” Clearly descended from Jim Jarmusch’s 1991 comedy about five cabbies and their fares in five international cities, Berlin-based writer-director Hannes Stoehr’s immensely likable second feature follows four pairs of mismatched Europeans struggling to understand each other in at least seven mangled languages as four tourist thefts are reported in four police stations amid championship soccer mania. Though lack of star power and dramatic gravitas may limit pic’s exposure stateside, this benevolent brand of comedy transcends cultural nuances and figures to be popular at fests, in limited theatrical and homevid.
Football fever grips Moscow, as red-and-gold-clad fans gather to cheer on their Galatasary Istanbul team against Galicia’s blue-and-white Deportivo La Coruna club in a Champions League final. When visiting British art historian Kate (Megan Gay) is swindled and robbed by a crooked cabbie, spunky Russian pensioner Elena (Luidmila Tsvetkova) accompanies her to the local precinct house to file the paperwork needed for an insurance claim. The pair endure a comic odyssey of delays and inattention before they are picked up by Elena’s son — who happens to drive a taxi.
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In Istanbul at about the same time, the plans of German backpacker Rokko (Florian Lukas) to fake a robbery to collect insurance money go awry when the cabbie he flags down, Celal (Erdal Yildiz), proves annoyingly curious and the police station suddenly becomes a prison.
A short time later, in Spain’s picturesque Santiago de Compostela, Hungarian backpacker Gabor (Peter Scherer) asks a stranger to take his picture, only to lose the digital camera containing hundreds of cherished shots when the man disappears. He reports the crime to cynical, time-wasting local cop Barreira (Miguel de Lira).
As the off-screen game goes into overtime, penniless French street performers Rachida (Rachida Brakni) and Claude (Boris Arquier) wander Berlin planning to stage a fake robbery of their decrepit panel truck for quick cash, only to run afoul of the authorities and find themselves proud owners of a police van.
A quantum leap forward from Stoehr’s 2001 nocturnal mood-piece “Berlin Is in Germany,” “Europe” finds helmer painting fluidly and with muted flair on a much larger canvas.
Thesping is uniformly fine, with standout work from the arresting Gay, Yildiz as the cabbie with a huge heart, and the exquisite comic interplay between rumpled Magyar comic Scherer and the Clouseau-like de Lira. Ahmet Mumtaz Taylan is a sinister hoot as an imposing Istanbul cop. All characters employ distinct regional patois, which only adds to the comic fun as they attempt to default to heavily accented English.
The sunny “Day” comes courtesy of Florian Hoffmeister’s glorious widescreen photography, even as Florian Appl’s catchy and vigorous rock-flavored score gets feet tapping in any language. There’s no official German title; per Stoehr, English is “easier to find on the Google search engine.”