sun 26/10/2014

Love Is All You Need | Film reviews, news & interviews

Love Is All You Need

Not your usual romcom: a pleasing tale about mismatched older lovers

Pierce Brosnan as Philip, with Benedikte, Ida and Astrid to his left

Following in the footsteps of hugely popular television dramas and film adaptations of various Scandi noir novels comes this overwhelmingly sympathetic piece, a romcom that hasn't an ounce of gloopiness and, unusually, is about middle-aged people getting it together.

Pierce Brosnan plays Philip, an uptight Englishman living in Copenhagen who is still grieving the death of his Danish wife some years before and is estranged from their adult son, Patrick (Sebastian Jessen). Ida (Trine Dyrholm, pictured below with Brosnan), meanwhile, is a hairdresser in the same city coming to terms with both the loss of her hair after cancer treatment and discovering her feckless husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia, from The Bridge and The Killing) in flagrante in the marital home with a much younger colleague 

Patrick is about to marry his girlfriend, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), after a whirlwind romance. Astrid is Ida's daughter, and what do you know but she and Philip bump into each other when Ida prangs his car at the airport as they are both about to catch a plane to the Amalfi coast, where the wedding is about to take place.

Family and friends gather at the Sorrento hilltop villa owned by Philip, a place painfully associated with Patrick’s mother and where he has a vast lemon grove (lemons are a quirky leitmotif of this film, presumably pointing to the bittersweet nature of love) central to his fruit import business back in Denmark. As the preparations unfurl, so do various relationships and various characters' lies and secrets emerge.

Director Susanne Bier (who won an Oscar for 2010's rather different In a Better World) flirts with several clichés - chance meeting, star-cross'd lovers, sexual confusion - in Anders Thomas Jensen's script (spoken in a mixture of Danish and English) but trumps them each time by bringing out both its knowing comedy about recognisable human foibles and pleasingly authentic performances from her actors. Brosnan is superb with his nuanced portrayal of a man trapped in grief, but he is equalled by Dyrholm's subtle essay of a woman so unused to being treasured that she doesn't at first recognise love when it calls.

Paprika Steen, as Philip's loud-mouthed and crass sister-in-law Benedikte, who fancies herself as replacing her late sister in his affections, steals every scene she's in and is an absolute hoot, while Egelind is one to watch. And while the story, the Sorrento setting and Brosnan's presence prompts memories of Mamma Mia!, have no fear; he doesn't sing.

Watch the trailer for Love is All You Need

Susanne Bier flirts with several clichés but trumps them by bringing out pleasingly authentic performances

rating

4

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