After her trip to America to make the underwhelming Oscar-bait Things We Lost in the Fire (2007), filmmaker Susanne Bier beat it back to Denmark where her next film In a Better World (2010) nabbed that Oscar — for Best Foreign Language Film (though it still didn’t set the box office ablaze and didn’t even play here). Now, Bier returns with a surprising offering — Love Is All You Need. The film is a romantic comedy with surprising depths, which sets it far, far above the usual tripe of this genre. It may look a lot like Audrey Wells’ picture postcard Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) — with its Italian scenery and its romantically rundown villa — but there’s more going on here. This, in fact, is a film of great charm and unforced beauty. And since it stars a name actor, Pierce Brosnan, and is partly in English, it ought to smooth things over with viewers who are either subtitle-phobic or skeptical of movies starring unknowns.
It should be noted that Love Is All You Need has nothing to do with Messrs. Lennon and McCartney. (The most played, even overplayed, song in the movie is Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.”) In fact, the title is an international affectation, since it was presumably (and probably correctly) felt that the original Danish title, The Bald Hairdresser lacked marquee appeal—though it is more apt. Trine Dyrholm (A Royal Affair) plays Ida, a hairdresser who is indeed bald, thanks to chemotherapy treatments following her recent mastectomy. Just as she’s about to travel to Italy for her daughter Astrid’s (Molly Blixt Egelind) wedding, she finds her doltish husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia, In a Better World), having an affair with an overly accommodating, but not overly bright, bimbette named Thilde (Danish TV actress Christiane Schaumburg-Muller).
When Leif blames Ida for his philandering (her illness was very hard on him, you see) and takes off with Thilde on his way to the wedding, Ida is understandly nonplussed. In fact, she’s so rattled she ends up in a silly “meet cute” traffic accident with Philip (Brosnan), who turns out to be the father of the groom. Naturally, they immediately dislike each other. And, yes, we all know what that means. What we don’t know is how delightfully the film will get there — nor the surprisingly deep detours on the way. I’m not saying it will take a rocket scientist to figure things out, but there is much to like — maybe even love — here. The two middle-aged leads are pure delights. The little scene in which we realize Brosnan’s brusque businessman has been captivated — he quickly, without comment, steps up his pace in order to walk next to Dyrholm — is one of the sweetest and giddiest romantic moments I’ve seen in a long time. The whole film is filled with little touches like this — some charming, some poignant, some both. This is definitely a movie to catch. Rated R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas