Love is All You Need (****)
Directed By: Susanne Bier
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia and Paprika Steen
(Movie House Dublin Road Preview 15/04/2013)
THE premise is the old familiar boy and girl ‘meet-cute’ – everything points to the typical rom-com predictability, but this is a film with a difference.
Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier also co-wrote Love Is All You Need with Anders Thomas Jensen, and it tells the story of Ida (Trine Dyrholm) and Philip (Pierce Brosnan) who meet by chance as their children are about to get married in Italy, after a whirlwind romance.
It soon becomes clear that the young lovers are not the focus of the film and the heroine is without a doubt Ida. She is a Danish hairdresser who is recovering from Cancer when she finds her husband has been having an affair with a younger woman. Despite her adversity, her warmth, innocence and charm shine and the audience falls in love with her. Bier based the character on her own mother, who has had breast cancer twice. I think her intimate knowledge of that situation really shows and it makes the story, particular Ida as a character, so organic.
Philip is a Copenhagen-based fruit and vegetable businessman, who has shut himself off from close personal relationships since the death of his wife years before. The beginning of the movie is set in Denmark, and one scene shows Philip interacting with his colleagues; as they all speak to him in Danish, he clearly understands but responds only in English, and this appears to be one of the most obvious ways he keeps the outside world at a distance. The film explores his emotional journey, as he becomes more and more charmed by Ida, he also begins to mend his relationship with his son.
When I read the synopsis of the film I wondered how comedy could work in the midst of such heavy subject-matter, but the jokes are subtle, respectful, and at times as delicious as the Italian lemon grove where most of the film is set.
Paprika Steen plays Benedikte, Philip’s sister-in-law. The audience picks up on her much less than subtle advances and so much of the comedy is in her obliviousness that Brosnan’s character finds her utterly abhorrent in every way.
The star of the show is Dyrholm, without question. The character of Ida was already written beautifully, but she had the courage to make her something rare and exquisite. There are moments that shock us as an audience, for example when she has been swimming in the ocean and emerges from the water entirely naked, without her wig, and a large scar where her right breast was.
The only character I felt could have been developed more was Philip’s son Patrick, played by Sebastien Jessen. He has a number of issues and has clearly suffered since the loss of his mother and his father’s response to shut off. Although there is eventually redemption, there is a feeling that it could have been explored a little more.
On the whole, Love Is All You Need is a fabulous piece of cinema. It is so refreshing to see a film that is unapologetically about older people falling in love and embracing every moment of their lives, no matter what might get in the way. If you like a feel-good movie in the true sense, you will not regret a cinema trip to see this one.