Sun-kissed dramedy about a tightly-wound businessman (Pierce Brosnan) who finally comes unstuck on a family trip to Italy. Jan was thoroughly charmed by this new film by Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier. Rich also enjoyed how Bier developed the Brosnan/Dryholm relationship but thought some of the other characters were too undeveloped &/or stereotyped. Click HERE for our FF2 haiku.
Two year ago, Danish director Susanne Bier won a well-deserved Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category for her searing drama In a Better World. Now she’s back with the light, bright, charming dramedy Love Is All You Need. But don’t expect any Beatles on the soundtrack. Most of Love Is All You Need is set in Sorrento, Italy, and that voice you hear is Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore” (just like in the much-loved Cher film Moonstruck).
Love Is All You Need is Bier’s fifth collaboration with screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen. I’ve never seen the first one (Open Hearts), but Love Is All You Need shares something essential with the other four (which include Brothers from 2004 and After the Wedding from 2006) all of which I have seen: in the typical Bier/Jensen film, people from Denmark leave the chill of their native land and find themselves transformed by their experiences in warmer climes. Unlike the other four, however, Love is mostly played for laughs, albeit laughs pitched at the edge of tears.
Love Is All You Need opens in a Copenhagen hospital. “Ida” (Trine Dyrholm) has just completed a course of chemotherapy, so her physician wants her to relax a bit and maybe even take a vacation. Ida needs reassurance, but her physician makes no promises. Perhaps she is now cancer-free, but who knows. Best to enjoy each day as it comes.
As it happens, Ida does have a trip planned. Her daughter “Astrid” (Molly Blixt Egelind) is about to get married in Italy, so that’s where she is headed, but first she must pack her son “Kenneth” (Micky Skeel Hansen) off for military service in Afghanistan. Her husband “Leif” (Kim Bodnia) is a bit of a bumbler, so it is clear from the outset that Ida is the star around which her whole family navigates.
Of course nothing goes as planned. When Ida finally arrives in Italy, after having crashed her car in the Copenhagen airport parking lot, she is not only missing her husband (aka “the father of the bride”) but also all of her luggage. Best to enjoy each day as it comes?
Cross-cut with Ida’s story is the story of “Philip” (Pierce Brosnan) who is not only the father of the groom, but also the person on the other end of the airport parking lot brouhaha. A decade or so earlier, Philip had lost his wife in a far more deadly crash, and although he has been living all the days since, he certainly hasn’t enjoyed any of them. Sitting at the huge desk in his Copenhagen office, Philip is a perfect fit. With his impeccable manners and elegant clothes, Philip appears totally self-possessed and well-contained within the lean lines and cool colors of the Scandinavian surround.
But all the edges blur once the wedding party assembles in Sorrento, where the air is warm and the beauty of the natural landscape–cliffs high above the sea, groves filled with lemons, flowers blooming everywhere–overwhelms the merely transitory, man-made elements. Philip, walking away from the others and longing for escape, looks down and sees Ida swimming below, equally alone. Concerned about the current, he forces her out. “It’s cold,” he says. “It’s refreshing,” she replies. And in this instant, Philip has an epiphany.
But they are seldom alone again. Ida must deal with Astrid’s pre-wedding jitters, Kenneth’s unexpected arrival, and the appearance of someone added to the mix, with no advance warning, by Leif. Philip, for his part, must tend his relationships with his son “Patrick” (Sebastian Jessen) and his sister-in-law “Benedikte” (Paprika Steen), a woman who has cast herself in the role of mother of the groom.
Truth be told, my husband Rich found all these “obstacles” annoying, but for me they simply represented the mess of life as lived. Trine Dyrholm and Pierce Brosnan play their parts so perfectly that I found the ending both poignant and well-earned. Rich is right: We know from the moment their cars collide in the Copenhagen airport parking lot that this film will end with these two people together, as a couple, in Italy. OK, yes… but what next? Best to enjoy each day as it comes!
Bottom Photo: Ida (Trine Dyrholm) & Philip (Pierce Brosnan) arrive in Sorrento.
Top Photo: Dancing at the wedding 🙂
Photo Credits: Doane Gregory/Zentropa Productions