Follow us
Mobile
Pin It

Love Is All You Need: More than porn 

Rating: ***

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
***
DIRECTED BY
Susanne Bier
STARS Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm

WORTH THE TRIP: Ida (Trine Dyrholm) admires the scenery while Philip (Pierce Brosnan) admires Ida in Love Is All You Need. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
  • WORTH THE TRIP: Ida (Trine Dyrholm) admires the scenery while Philip (Pierce Brosnan) admires Ida in Love Is All You Need. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

Let me go ahead and admit that I'm a sucker for porn. In this instance, I'm not referring to the X-rated variety, but rather the types of movies that feature what can be tagged "scenic porn" or "vacation porn." Under the Tuscan Sun, Enchanted April, The Quiet Man — these are but a few of the countless films that feature vistas so eye-popping that viewers immediately begin to consider mortgaging the house to pay for a week-long stay.

Danish writer-director Susanne Bier, whose In a Better World won the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, serves up her own dose of scenic sensuality in Love Is All You Need, a movie that makes exquisite use of Sorrento, Italy. But don't think for a moment that postcard prettiness is all that this picture has going for it. Sharing writing credit with frequent collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen, Bier can't quite avoid all the tropes that pop up in romances such as this, but she has nevertheless made a smart, winning movie that's tougher than many others in its field.

That's most apparent in the introduction of its principal player: Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a hairdresser who has just finished her brutal treatment for cancer (indeed, the film's Danish title is The Bald Hairdresser). As she prepares to travel to Italy to attend the wedding of her daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), she's rocked by the news that her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) is having an affair with a much younger woman named Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Müller). Understandably, Ida's an emotional mess, which is the opposite of the buttoned-up Philip (Pierce Brosnan). A British widower who lives in Denmark, he's the father of the groom (Sebastian Jessen), and he treats everyone with contempt and condescension. Naturally, he and Ida establish an instant dislike for each other, and just as naturally, they will eventually move past their differences and make a connection. But what makes this love story memorable are the occasionally unexpected ways Bier lets it play out. When Philip first experiences any sort of feeling for Ida, it isn't in some comic, meet-cute way or a lushly romantic setting. It's when he comes across her at her most vulnerable: naked, bald and clumsily trying to cover up her cancer-ravaged breast. Leif has the audacity to bring Thilde to the wedding, and this is played as much for dramatic tension as for awkward laughs (as when the bubble-headed girl offers to lend Ida some clothes, acting as if she were a high school BFF rather than the woman boffing her husband). There's also ample material involving the engaged couple, although this subplot unfortunately ends in a predictable and not entirely convincing manner.

Brosnan delivers a nicely textured performance — the monologue in which he describes the circumstances of his wife's death is especially powerful, a testament to both his acting ability and Bier's understanding of the way real people think and act. Still, this is Dyrholm's movie from start to finish, and she's wonderful in a challenging role. Ida constantly teeters between survivor and victim — not just in the face of her cancer but in the face of her relationships with others — and Dyrholm allows us to feel every pang of betrayal, every flash of frustration, every surge of joy. Trine Dyrholm is a major star in Denmark, and it's easy to see why.

  • Pin It

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Latest in Reviews

Readers also liked…

More by Matt Brunson

Search Events

Recent Comments

© 2016 Womack Newspapers, Inc.
Powered by Foundation