For a charming romance, 'Love' is all you need
05:00 AM, May 02, 2013
It’s the rare love story that avoids treacly sentimentality. Even rarer is a believable romantic comedy featuring middle-aged people that avoids jokes about sagging flesh and waning libidos.
Love Is All You Need (* * * of four; rated R; opens Friday in select cities) dodges all the usual Hollywood romance bullets. Perhaps that’s because it’s made by Danish director Susanne Bier, who won a foreign-language Oscar in 2010 for her moving and thought-provoking In a Better World.
While this is a light film, it’s not flimsy. Characters are developed thoughtfully, and clichés are averted.
Set mostly in a scenic Italian coastal town, the romance builds slowly and believably. And its stars, Pierce Brosnan and Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, are ideally cast.
Brosnan plays Philip, a wealthy widower who has buried grief over his wife’s death by plunging into workaholism at his Copenhagen company. A strapping fellow, he’s lusted after by his employees and sundry Danish women, but he has eyes only for the bottom line. It’s a wonderful role for Brosnan, who invests his character with depth and dignity.
Ida is beautifully played by Dyrholm. Still recovering from breast cancer, Ida walks in on her lout of a husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia), dallying with a younger woman. Shaken but in denial, she heads off to the airport en route to Italy, where her daughter, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), is getting married to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen).
In the airport parking lot, Ida crashes her subcompact into Philip’s luxury sedan. It’s not a happy first encounter. Only later do they realize it’s her daughter and his son whose nuptials both are headed to. .
While the premise sounds formulaic, the events that transpire once they arrive in Italy are unpredictable.
The best scenes are those between Ida and Philip, both wounded souls. The clueless Leif shows up at his daughter’s wedding with Tilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller), the bimbo he was romancing back in Denmark, upsetting Ida and Astrid. But there are bigger complications for the young couple than insensitive family members.
The soulful Ida draws out Philip’s vulnerability as the two progress from casual conversations to a deeper connection.
A particularly touching scene involves Ida, bald from chemotherapy treatments and minus her blond wig, swimming in a cove. Had this been made by a Hollywood studio, it might have been played for laughs and then possibly tears. But in Bier’s hands, the scene’s quiet straightforwardness lends it poignancy.
Brosnan and Dyrholm are irresistible, communicating volumes with mere glances as well as sharp dialogue.
It’s a sweetly enchanting experience watching this mature romance unfold.