YOU’D be forgiven for thinking, having seen the promotional posters, that Danish film Love Is All You Need is the sequel to Mamma Mia! Thankfully, the Amalfi coast, a foreign wedding and Pierce Brosnan in linen are where the similarities end. This film, despite the lovey dovey title, is a cleverer, subtler affair.
Hairdresser and recovering cancer patient Ida (Trine Dyrholm) returns home to find Leif (Kim Bodnia of the Bridge and Killing fame – clearly there aren’t many actors in Denmark) has been having an affair with the blonde from accounts. When she travels to her daughter’s wedding in Italy, she sparks an unlikely friendship with widower Philip, a British big cheese and the groom’s father. The wedding is taking place at Philip’s shabby villa in Sorrento, which he allowed to fall into semi-disrepair after the sudden death of his wife.
Perhaps because of its Scandinavian origin – it is directed by Susanne Bier, director of the 2010 Oscar-winner In A Better World, and most of the film is in subtitles – it avoids many of the cliches we’ve come to associate with Meryl Streep rom-coms. As with the beginnings of all relationships there are awkward silences, longing glances, imperfect moments. By presuming her audience has a modicum of intelligence, Bier has directed a far more enjoyable and perceptive film than those glossy posters and the saccharine trailer would have you believe.
Dryholm gives a brave performance – at one point she emerges from the sea naked – and her wide eyed optimism, coupled with a large dose of vulnerability, makes her so endearing that she actually brought a tear to my eye. Brosnan – a man who even in old age knows how to make the ladies swoon – is on superb, suave form. He lost his first wife to the very illness Ida is battling, which may explain why he is able to invest the character with such depth. A sub-plot involving bride and groom-to-be is less engaging than the central romance, largely because you’ll be far more concerned with watching Dryholm and Brosnan’s sizzling chemistry.
The trailer pitches this movie as a romantic comedy, but it doesn't prompt many roaring laughs (although Paprika Steen delivers an amusing turn as Brosnan’s vulturous sister-in-law Bendikte). If it’s comedy you’re after, this will probably disappoint. However, if all you need is love (and sincere, emotionally charged performances) this Danish offering is sure to deliver the goods.