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Love Is All You Need

Den skaldede frisør 2012 | 116 min | DFI: Tilladt for alle, frarådes børn under 7 år | 2.39:1

Love Is All You Need


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Theatrical release date

 03 May, 2013
 19 April, 2013

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Love Is All You Need


Screenshots from Love Is All You Need Blu-ray

Love Is All You Need Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 15, 2013

Danish director Susanne Bier has built a career out of difficult pictures with hard edges, gracefully exploring the limits of vulnerability with a decidedly humane approach, always aware of natural behaviors that have generated some spellbinding cinema (including 2004’s “Brothers”). “Love Is All You Need” is an unnerving step toward mainstream acceptance for the helmer, masterminding an unexpectedly conventional romantic drama that carries a predictability about it that’s a touch deflating. I’m not suggesting the movie is a Kate Hudson rom-com with Katrina and the Waves needle drops, but for every touch of emotional texture that’s inviting, there’s a wallop of formula that’s disheartening.

Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is a hairdresser in midst of battling cancer, unable to process a potentially bleak future, while discovering husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) is cheating on her with a younger woman. It’s also time to celebrate the wedding of daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), son of demanding fruit exporter Philip (Pierce Brosnan). Traveling to Italy for the big weekend, Ida literally crashes into Philip during the journey, with the two kicking off an uneasy but warming relationship, learning about the businessman’s history as a widower, fending off the desperate advances of his sister-in-law, Benedikte (Paprika Steen). Laboring to get the festivities rolling, the extended family comes together, only to watch dysfunction spill everywhere, leading to animosities and confusion, with Patrick beginning to question his sexuality on the eve of his wedding vows. As chaos sweeps over the party, Ida and Philip grow closer -- the lost man finding love again with a woman who would like nothing more than to isolate herself.

Bier has a way of highlighting tender, subtle interplay between characters, and “Love Is All You Need” contains the good stuff, but only in chunks. Instead of exhaustively plumbing the depths of the soul, the feature assumes the posture of a Hollywood romp, topped off with a grumpy but lovable male lead, a plausible wreck of a female lead, and their meet cute, which finds the Ida and Philip greeting each other in an airport parking garage after a fender-bender. The screenplay by Andres Thomas Jensen also includes a subplot where Patrick is tempted by one of the male servers, offers numerous scenes of bickering between Benedikte and her psychologically wrecked daughter, and force-feeds disaster into the picture with Leif, who brings mistress Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller) to the ceremony, destroying Ida’s confidence and enraging her soldier son. It’s a sitcom confluence of clichés that threatens to spill into wackiness, but Bier has no interest in that direction, pulling back at the very moment the hokiness begins to reveal itself.

Navigating the artifice splendidly is Dyrholm, who delivers a deep performance filled with grief and confusion, portraying a woman confronted with the possibility of death as she marches into a chaotic celebration of life. It’s vulnerable, visibly shaken work that’s riveting in its restraint, making Ida less about a flailing breakdown and more about the grand disruption of routine, facing the closure of her marriage, the threat of cancer, the maturation of her daughter, and the romantic interest of Philip all in the same weekend. Dyrholm is marvelous, and she pulls some life out of Brosnan, who delivers his best work in some time. Granted, the man could play the rom-com beats asleep (the exotic, colorful locations give off a heavy “Mamma Mia!” vibe), yet Brosnan fights obvious choices to motivate Philip naturally, recognizing that his grief-stricken ways are poisoning his life, electing to restart with this beguiling, down to earth Danish stranger. The lead performances keep “Love Is All You Need” afloat, allowing Bier moments of grace before she’s painting by numbers again.

“Love Is All You Need” is gentle enough to remain appealing, pulling through some choppy break-up-to-make up waters as it finds a recognizable conclusion gifted warmth by the performers. However, it’s lesser Bier, spotlighting an intentional creative move to reach the wider audience she deserves. It’s perfect for the rainy day rental, but any expectations beyond that are bound to be crushed.

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Kim Bodnia, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen, Sebastian Jessen
Director: Susanne Bier

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