The posters and synopsis for Susanne Bier’s new Danish/English-language romantic comedy, with Pierce Brosnan grinning back at you, may recall another sunny feel-good adventure with the former Bond star but, by the end of this sweet and endearing film, you’ll finally be able to disassociate the actor from his most infamous role. There’s no chance of Brosnan breaking into song here, and he’s out to remind everyone what a watchable leading man he still is.
It’s really quite lazy to liken this film to Mamma Mia, or the other one going around, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, since there’s a lot more going on here than its simple premise suggests. Trine Dyrholm stars as recovering cancer sufferer Ida who, returning home from a hopeful doctor’s visit, finds her husband sleeping with the girl from accounts. If we didn’t already dislike him, then his entitled reaction to being caught solidifies our feelings and, sadly, he and Ida will have to face each other at their daughter’s impending wedding.
And who else is on their way to Italy for the nuptials? Why Brosnan’s Philip, of course. A successful fruit and vegetable importer in Denmark, Philip is married to his work and has refused to enter into any new relationship since the accidental death of his wife years earlier. The holiday villa in which his son is getting married has many painful associations with his fractured family, but he’s willing to look past his own reservations to make his slightly estranged son happy with his new bride.
But this is a romantic comedy at heart, and that means that we need a meet cute at some point. That comes when Ida reverses into Philip’s car in the airport car park, and the pair are forced to ignore initial hatred and irritation in order to travel to their children’s wedding together. Of course, with both of them damaged and lonely, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where the story is going, but the sizzling chemistry that develops between them helps anyone willing to largely ignore the movie’s predictable elements.
Aside from this central couple, the film’s supporting cast also does a brilliant job. The two families are densely worked out and interesting, easily indicating that these people have a long and possibly chequered history that doesn’t need to be laboriously explained. The complicated relationship between Philip and his loud, brash sister-in-law Benedikte (Paprika Steen) illustrates this perfectly and, after her frequent advances temporarily ruin his chances at new love with Ida, his reaction is one of the comedic and dramatic highlights of the movie.
Young lovebirds Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) and Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) pick up the B-plot, as their spontaneous wedding just three months after meeting is quickly plagued by doubts from both sides. Patrick ends up coming off a little whiny, but Danish actress Egelind almost single-handedly stops this supporting story from being an irritating distraction from the main event. What we’re really watching them for is their relationship with their respective parents, and the quiet moments that they share are really great.
Love Is All You Need, as suggested by that awful title, could easily have been a horrible mess of sentimentality pitched to an older audience who, as is too often assumed, will blindly accept any old rubbish. That it isn’t that movie, but is instead a feel-good rom-com that sensitively deals with important issues like cancer and the affects of bereavement on surviving family members, is a charming surprise.
It’s not for natural cynics or those allergic to such overt optimism but, if you like your light comedy-dramas to come with attractive people and sunny locales, then this is the film for you.
Love Is All You Need is out in UK cinemas now.
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