'Love Is All You Need' review: It has heart
The Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier ("In a Better World") has found international success by being among the least stereotypically Scandinavian of Scandinavian directors, one who eschews ambiguity and darkly intentioned gestures for frank emotion and obvious intentions. It's refreshing, if less than challenging (as intended), and the style she seems to have settled into is an unusual destination, given that Bier started out as an acolyte of Dogme 95, its Spartan esthetic, and its inherent affection for irony.
There's nothing austere or ironic about "Love Is All You Need," from its title to its setting -- a wedding, which in movies ranging from Robert Altman to the "Big Fat Greek" variety has provided directors a cornucopia of devices and desires from which to construct a drama. Bier treats hers, appropriately, like a smorgasbord.
At the center is the blond, bewigged Ida (her hair is among the several things she's lost to cancer) who is in Italy attending the marriage of her daughter, one to which her feckless husband has brought his new girlfriend. Ida is a woman at several intersecting crossroads, and the actress Trine Dyrholm imbues her with nobility, and bravery. Less plainly noble, perhaps, is Pierce Brosnan, whose father of the groom seems a bit pained, but who possesses enough redeeming qualities (especially given what Ida's been through) to draw her out, and in his direction.
"Love Is All You Need" may be, technically, a romantic comedy, but there are very few laugh-out-loud moments. In this, perhaps, Bier has remained true to her roots. But there is genuine emotion to the film, and sympathetic people, unresolved resentments and interpersonal drama, all splayed out along a picturesque Italian seaside, where one needn't work very hard to have a satisfying time.
PLOT While a big old wedding revolves around them, a pair of mismatched middle-agers gravitate toward each other, and romance.
CAST Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Paprika Steen
BOTTOM LINE Soft around the edges, but with sincerity at its heart.