Love Is All You Need must be one of the more multi-cultural films in recent memory. A Brit lives in Denmark but maintains a villa in Italy which juxtaposes his idyllic lemon grove. He understands Danish but only speaks English and there is also some Italian thrown in on the side. Recognizing the scenario right off the bat is easy for the audience, this is a long weekend where all the characters will come together with their respective problems and each one will be more or less resolved by the end of the get together. Be it marriage problems, alienation, mixed signals, confused feelings, jealousy, and even cancer, one way or another, these problems will bump into one another in the first half and spend the second half sorting themselves out.
Philip (Pierce Brosnan) is a wealthy, British fruit importer stationed in Copenhagen who threw himself into work after his wife died. Emotionally distant from all, including his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), Philip is none-too-thrilled to return to his Italian villa he once shared with his wife. For a long few days, Philip must move amongst strangers for Patrick’s wedding to Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind). At the airport on his way to Italy, Philip literally runs into Ida (Trine Dyrholm), Astrid’s mother, in what is supposed to be a meet-cute but is really an awkward and unpleasant scene which you will be glad just ends after a while.
Ida’s life is falling apart when it should be on an upswing. Finally cured of breast cancer after intense chemo, Ida walks in on her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) having his way with a much younger blonde, Tilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller), who Ida must have looked like 25 years ago. To solidify Ida’s humiliation, Leif brings Tilde to the wedding where she introduces herself as Leif’s fiancée. The screenplay really turns the screws on Ida much more than the average romantic comedy would on its leading lady.
Inevitably, relations grow warmer between Philip and Ida yet their stunted, fledgling relationship is repeatedly battered by everyone else’s myriad problems. Their children are rushing into marriage and unsure if they really want to go through with this, Leif and Tilde are flaunting their affair in front of the whole crowd, and Philip’s sister-in-law, his dead wife’s sister Benedikte (Paprika Steen), has her eyes locked on to Philip as she convinces herself the time is just right for her to declare her love for him. All of these problems which would knock any real person back for months on end will naturally be ironed out and wrapped up with a bow by the end of the film’s two hour run.
Danish director Susanne Bier (In A Better World, Things We Lost in the Fire) and frequent screenplay collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen, responsible for writing the God-awful film The Duchess (2008), create a heavier than normal rom-com. The male lead is icier and meaner than the usual Richard Gere-like lead would be and the female lead is persistently knocked upside the head with emotional calamities when she would normally have only one or two issues to juggle at the same time. Trine Dyrholm as Ida is the best part of Love Is All You Need. Her warmth, smile, and radiance are a relief to watch after the film relentlessly batters the audience with obnoxious, one-dimensional characters who would be the rudest people you would meet in your entire life if you knew them off-screen. It is quite the coincidence that they all show up for the same wedding.
The script never mentions it, but the wedding obviously takes place on the Amalfi Coast near Sorrento. There are a multitude of establishing shots of Sorrento, Positano, the Isle of Capri, the sun setting, rising, and the surrounding lemon grove which confines the haphazard group to the villa. The scenery is gorgeous but the people who move around in it are nauseating the majority of the time. While Love Is All You Need provides a much more diverse and multi-cultural cast then the standard rom-com, the problems, break-ups, and make-ups are all ones you have seen before. Leave this movie to ripen on the vine.
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Written by: Anders Thomas Jensen, Susanne Bier
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen, Kim Bodnia, Sebastian Jessen, Molly Blixt Egelind, Micky Skeel Hansen, Frederikke Thomassen, Christiane Schaumburg-Muller