Love is All You Need Trailer
A hairdresser, played by Trine Dyrholm Clash, travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding and meets a widower, played by Pierce Brosnan, who still blames the world for the loss of his wife.PT2M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2av22 620 349 December 5, 2012
(M, 112 minutes.)
Marking an about-turn after her affecting melodrama In a Better World - which deservedly triumphed as last year's best foreign-language Oscar winner - Danish director Susanne Bier opts for something completely different: an unashamedly feel-good picture that's blatantly commercial in its outlook while focusing on everyday issues in a way that made her previous affair so engaging.
To the near-constant strains of Dean Martin's That's Amore, we're presented with Philip (Pierce Brosnan), a widower busily running a fruit-and-veg wholesale business in Copenhagen, who's also preparing for his son's impending nuptials at his late wife's Italian retreat in Sorrento, Italy. Not far away is the mother of the bride, chirpy hairdresser Ida (In a Better World's Trine Dyrholm). A cancer survivor waiting for the final all-clear, Ida soon finds her oafish husband having it away with the accounts clerk. When Ida and Philip collide in the car park on the way to the wedding, the stage is seemingly set.
Love Is All You Need is full of such narrative pointers. One can see what's coming a mile off, particularly when it comes to Philip's son, Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), a wet fish whose eye is clearly more attuned to a local lad (Ciro Petrone) than Ida's daughter, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind). This is a shotgun wedding, we're told, although it appears the would-be couple have yet to sanctify their love in the biblical sense.
For all its lack of subtlety and expectation, Bier's film radiates a warm, infectious glow that's impossible to shake. Brosnan is simply wonderful as the widowed Philip, hiding years of hurt and anger behind a wall of work. It may seem churlish to specify the obvious - the former James Bond lost his first wife to the disease Ida battles onscreen - yet it reinforces the notion of just how deep the actor is willing to go. One feels his pain, his sorrow and his joy in equal measure. On more than one occasion, one even has the apprehension that Bier could have him break into song, a la Mamma Mia!. Thankfully, he does not.
Playing alongside him quite beautifully is Dyrholm, an acclaimed star in her native Denmark, most recently seen plotting and scheming in the sumptuous period romp A Royal Affair. Her turn as Ida is inspired. She is a gentle, fun but robust figure, and an affectionate mother, to boot. Her key scene, in which Philip stumbles upon her skinny-dipping sans wig, is really quite special in its emotive intensity and timing.
Inevitably, the supporting cast are sidelined by the sheer weight of their accomplished leads, but they still find time to resonate. Most notable of all is Patrick's Aunt Benedikte (a fabulous performance from Paprika Steen), whose familiar and friendly graces belies a burning, unfulfilled desire towards Philip, who continues to spurn her. Ida's protective son, Kenneth (Micky Skeel Hansen), also registers, as does her warts-and-all work colleague (Bodil Jorgensen). The bride-to-be isn't short on screen presence, either.
Bier's film, which had its world premiere in September at the Venice Film Festival, was initially mooted as a successor of sorts to last year's rom-com-for-seniors smash The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But such comparisons prove simplistic and largely misleading. Certainly, Bier's film is aimed at an older adult demographic, but it's far more affecting emotionally than its elder English cousin, thanks to its standout lead performances. Brosnan and Dyrhom really do get under one's skin, in an altogether unexpected fashion. (One can almost forgive Bier the less-convincing sequences in her film, including how - or why - anyone would put up with Ida's idiotic husband.)
Wisely, Love Is All You Need is being delivered just before the Boxing Day deluge of releases. One imagines positive word of mouth will ensure Bier's film cleans up nicely. After all, when one needs a break from family over Christmas, what better way than to laugh good-naturedly at two onscreen in the most ill-advised wedding in recent memory? A splash of Italian countryside doesn't hurt, either. It may be far removed from the type of cinema one expects from Denmark, but it succeeds in its mandate rather well. A warm, witty festive offering for grown-ups, then.