Director: Susanne Brier
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastian Jessen
Running Time: 116 minutes
Release: April 19
It would be wonderful to say that there is an awful lot going on in this film. That, between the compromised melodrama and dislocated flow, there exists a serene void where numbness finds esoteric meaning. This, as the cliché follows, is not the case. This is the case of a director, one Susanne Bier, attempting to hammer out comedic romanticism from the depths of an Oscar winning thriller.
Love Is All You Need follows Bier’s award winning In A Better World (2010) and tells the story of two individuals lost in sarcastic tragedy. Ida (Dyrholm) has recovered from breast cancer only to discover her mentally idle husband sticking it to his accounts secretary. Philip (Brosnan) is a facetious business man, affectionately indifferent—lost in the high octane world of the Danish fruit and vegetable market. When they inadvertently discover that one another is the parent of the child that theirs is marrying, an awkward sense of impending hilarity ensues. To Italy!
Set against romantic stills of timeless Italian landscape, Bier concocts a lacklustre experiment in British farce, one that wants to keep one foot half-heartedly in the intense drama from which it came. By way of example, when Ida is wishing her son to not join the army and go to his sister’s wedding instead, he exclaims that he has to go to the war. Oh, that pesky war! No more is said about it. A few days later, the boy emerges with a broken arm at the Italian villa; a broken arm that he got ‘at war’? And so, the film suffers from being at war with itself, or rather the reality of its wishes. There are constant reminders of the film that Bier would be much better at making, the kind of film that deals with the tragedy of human suffering or the beauty of longing. This melodrama is tedious in the wake of the complete buffoonery that generally follows a crescendo of realism.
While Dyrholm placates an elegant performance, encapsulating a bare humanity often attempted but rarely executed in Rom-Coms, Brosnan charmingly bumbles his way around what he assumed would be a half-baked stab at a Mamma Mia sequel. Wedding? Sure. Exotic European location? Definitely. Yet when the narrative pulls the audience towards that musical exposition of realised personal conflicts, the story falls apart and chooses to ignore the proffered depth. This consistency of surface tension develops into an overarching mood of sarcasm: we are forced to ignore the elephantine plot points standing in the middle of the screen, and instead told to look at the pretty sunset over the bay for a few, long seconds.
Love Is All You Need is a fine film. It’s charming in parts, and painfully awkward in others. Its heart is never really in it, and you can’t help but think that this is not the film that it was intended to be. While Bier has an eye for stillness that resonates the romantic humanism of her acclaimed dramatic movements; here she simply exhumes a sarcastic judgement on the painful sincerity of the Rom-Com genre.