Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen
You may like this if you like: In a Better World (Susanne Bier, 2010), Mamma Mia (apart from the singing) (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008), Heartbreaker (Pascal Chaumeil, 2010)
Danish hairdresser Ida (Dyrholm) has just finished her cancer treatment and when coming home early arrives to find her husband in bed with his younger co-worker. She travels alone to her daughter’s wedding in Italy where on route she bumps into the groom’s estranged father Philip (Brosnan). Widower Philip lives a lonely existence and is perfectly happy to do so. As the wedding preparations go on, conflicts and revelations arise between all involved and each character learns something not only about those close to them, but about themselves.
Pierce Brosnan once again proves he has not lost any of his charm, and is effortlessly charismatic here fully justifying what in my view was a partly cynical casting decision. This is hardly Danish director Susanne Bier’s first English language film as everyone bar Pierce talks Danish to each other. It may just be the cynic in me that thinks he was cast here because of the potential bigger global appeal of using an ex Bond. Either way, he is reliably excellent in what in my view is nowhere near Susanne Bier’s best film, but a very well made, well acted honest drama about human relationships. Perhaps the presence of Brosnan and studio bigwigs wanting an international appeal have forced their hand in the toning down, leaving Love is all You Need lacking the edge and brutal raw honesty of Bier’s previous work in my view.
That all said, this is a drama with plenty of heart and questions posed about how we all try to find our place in the world and look for connection and belonging. When tackling the more sombre and serious issues it is all dealt with an honest maturity avoiding the cheesy clichés that is so often seen in this genre. Overall there is no getting away from the fact that is all quite light hearted and while consistently very watchable and still containing some surprising plot developments; it just lacks that real emotional punch of her previous work.
One of the main elements of why Love is all you Need is such a watchable and enjoyable film is the acting from not only the ever reliable Brosnan, but those around him. Trine Dyrholm gives a brave and understated performance providing us with a character we do truly care about and want to be happy. We do share her pain when confronted with making potentially life changing decisions. The supporting cast are all good at their specific roles, with the stand out having to be the always excellent Paprika Stern as a charismatic, deluded and ultimately tragic middle aged woman who was the sister of Brosnan’s late wife and has always had a thing for him.
Though lacking a little of the edge of Bier’s previous films, Love is all you Need is an extremely watchable and mature romantic drama. Though a little light around the edges, its mature approach to its subject and the great performances mean it manages to be both genuinely moving and uplifting.