Love Is All You Need

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm
Directed by Susanne Bier

by Ruth Thomson

In Danish rom-com (actually it’s much better than that tag implies) Love Is All You Need, Pierce Brosnan plays Philip, a hot shot business exec based in Copenhagen who’s struggled for years to get over the death of his wife, alienating his son Patrick [Sebastian Jessen] in the process. Danish singer and actress Trine Dyrholm is Ida, a likable hairdresser and mum of two whose been going through chemo to treat breast cancer and who comes home one day to discover her uninspiring husband Leif hard at it with the youthful Tilde from accounting. Despite this domestic strife, a brave face has to be put on – their daughter Astrid [Molly Blixt Egelind] is about to get married in Sorrento, to the son of a wealthy businessman…. And so the scene is set for Philip and Trine to meet.

They do so initially in highly inauspicious circumstances, and from the outset have terrific chemistry – Trine forthrightly pointing out that he needs a haircut and questioning why anybody would want to work for him as he barks orders into his mobile. It’s an added bonus that he works in the fruit and veg export industry and so we’re treated to the immortal line ‘the radishes are the priority. Forget everything else!’ Not a sentiment one would imagine hearing from 007… As the two deliciously dysfunctional families are drawn together for the big day, tensions begin to simmer, with some hilarious moments from Philip’s hawkish and horny sister in law Benedikte (the appropriately named Paprika Steen) in a best supporting performance if ever there was one.

In fact, all of the performances are terrific and genuinely touching. Although dressed up in his familiar handsome man outfit, Brosnan conveys the relentless weight of grief and loss at the same time as injecting the lighter scenes with sardonic humour – his cutting put down of Benedikte is an absolute belter. Trine’s resistance in the wake of the astounding hurtfulness and stupidity of her moronic husband and her fierce determination to protect her children, coupled with her vulnerability and loyalty, are beautifully played by Dyrholm. Despite the half English/half Danish script, none of the characters are two dimensional. The troubles of their parents’ generation are mirrored in Astrid and Patrick’s confusion – when Patrick admits that what he loves most about his recently met fiancée is her belief in marriage and dreams of being surrounded by the love of six wonderful children, one can’t help but feel the presence of his affection starved solitary childhood. Amidst the voluptuous Italian lemon groves, there’s a lot of food for thought here about the nature of relationships and why we’re drawn to, and stick with, the partners we choose.

Despite the glut of award nominated epics that have done the rounds at the start of the year, this is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen in ages – a treat for all Scandi fans, Italianates, and closet lovers of the inimitable Pierce.

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