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Love is All You Need

Arts Review2013-5-24By: Stephen Tseronakis

Photo from hollywoodreporter.com

Susanne Bier, director

Anders Thomas Jensen, script from a story by Bier and Jensen

Starring: Pierce Brosnan (Philip), Trine Dyrholm (Ida), Kim Bodnia (Leif), Sebastian Jessen (Patrick), Molly Bixt Egelind (Astrid)

The buzz

A new film by Susanne Bier always attracts attention. The Dane is one of the most accomplished and renowned female filmmakers in the world. She’s won many prizes including the best foreign film Oscar (for In a Better World), a Golden Globe, a TIFF FIPRESCI award, a couple of European Film Awards as well as commendations at Sundance, The Montreal World Film Festival, Rome, Rouen and, yes, even Sudbury.

And she’s landed Pierce Brosnan—yes, an ex-James Bond, as a romantic lead in her new film.

The genres

Zoomer romance; comedy of manners

The premise

Wealthy produce merchant Philip (Pierce Brosnan) and hairdresser Ida (Trine Dyrholm) meet “cute”—she smashes her car into his priceless sports vehicle—while they’re on their way to the wedding of their children Astrid and Patrick.

Ida is recovering from a very bad cancer scare; after chemotherapy, she is actually bald and is wearing a wig. If that isn’t enough, she has just found her husband Leif in bed with another woman after returning home unexpectedly from the hospital. A double whammy! As for Philip, he has never recovered emotionally from his wife’s death.

At first—this being a romantic comedy—they can’t stand each other. But that soon changes as Ida’s beautiful smile and Philip’s politesse warms matters enough for them to understand and share each other’s tragedies.

After a very skillful set of comic and dramatic scenes, their children, Patrick and Astrid, start to seriously question their relationship while Ida and Philip begin to fall in love. (Patrick may be gay; certainly he doesn’t reciprocate Astrid’s advances.) Meanwhile, Leif shows up with his new mistress adding an element of low comedy to the proceedings.

Will true love emerge? What do you think?

The performances

Post James Bond, Pierce Brosnan has often been an amiable presence. While his thespian talents are closer to Hugh rather than Cary Grant, he is an interesting actor to watch. It’s hard not to like him.

The film is absolutely stolen by Trine Dyrholm as the brave, funny, hairdresser. Charming is the obvious word to use for her performance in the film. You could chalk that up to superior casting on the part of Susanne Bier—but then, may I offer a TIFF tale? As it happens, I saw Love is All You Need and another excellent Danish film, A Royal Affair, within two days. In A Royal Affair, Ms. Dyrholm has a “Lady Macbeth” role as a vengeful Queen Mother. There was nary a smile and not a whit of humour in the performance. And it was impressive! IMDB, that “reliable” guide to cinema, notes that Alec Baldwin once called Trine Dyrholm “the best actress” playing today. I’m not sure that’s the case but she clearly makes Love is All You Need her film—and a good film it is.

The director

For Susanne Bier, this film is a relaxation after the rigours of In A Better World. Her films have romantic elements but overall, they tend to be melodramatic with political concerns. That’s particularly true of In A Better World and After the Wedding in which the Danish lead characters are shown to have led idealistic and helpful lives in Africa and Asia but are then forced into hypocritical personal choices in Denmark in order to continue doing the work they believe in.

Here, there’s comedy albeit with tragic overtones. We end up caring for Ida and Philip because they’ve earned a respite from life’s dark dramas. Bier has created a comedy that still has a sharp edge to it.

The skinny

This is truly a Zoomer romantic comedy. It’s the elders we care about and their relative escapes from hard pasts. While this isn’t a major film, Love is All You Need is a charming relaxation worth seeing either in cinemas or on DVD.


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