All the usual rom-com notes are struck in Love Is All You Need
Directed by Susanne Bier. Starring Trine Dyrholm and Pierce Brosnan. In English, Danish, and Italian with English subtitles. Rated PG.
This light romantic comedy is an ostensible change of pace for filmmaker Susanne Bier (In a Better World), who is usually concerned with war, sickness, regret, and dark family secrets. Actually, those Danish favourites make quiet background noise for a meeting of two souls who, we’re told, are simply meant for each other.
This assertion is only remotely believable because of strong, in-the-moment performances from Trine Dyrholm as Ida, a Copenhagen cancer patient whose daughter is about to get married, and Pierce Brosnan as Philip, the increasingly avid, if absurdly gruff, widower and father of the groom.
Unfortunately, Bier and frequent screenwriting collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen supply much low-grade silliness to both keep the new lovers apart and drive them together. This begins when Ida finds her husband (Kim Bodnia) shtupping a coworker right before they are to fly to Italy for the wedding. Ida, alone, then meets Philip, unaware that his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) is about to marry her Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind).
Everyone meets up at the wealthy Philip’s seaside villa in Sorrento, which is lovely in the most obvious sorts of ways. How obvious? Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” is heard twice, with instrumental versions plucked in between. All the usual rom-com notes are struck, but without the technical polish we usually associate with filmmakers who at least enjoy making this kind of hokum.
The generically named effort is underlit and overplayed, and the story doesn’t benefit from all behaviour being taken to cartoon extremes. Characterizations are sketchy (Philip doesn’t speak Danish but he understands it perfectly), and it appears to mean nothing that the bewigged Ida works at a hair salon—until you discover that the movie’s Danish title translates as The Bald Hairdresser. Now don’t you feel entertained, dammit?