Movie review: 'Love is All You Need' is a winner

THE BUFFALO NEWSJuly 5, 2013 

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Despite its somewhat lame name, “Love Is All You Need” is an elegant, touching romantic tale.

  • LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED

    •••1/2

    Rated: R for brief sexuality, nudity and some language. Starring: Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan, Sebastian Jessen, Molly Blixt Egelind. Director: Susanne Bier. Running time: 116 minutes. Theater: Flicks.

If it is true that you can't judge a book by its cover, then it also stands to reason that you shouldn't judge a movie by its title.

If you did, you might pass right over the limply named "Love Is All You Need," figuring it for just some skimpy, formulaic rom-com starring the latest graduate of the Disney Channel. And if you did that, you would miss out on something truly special: a simple but luscious romantic movie about a couple for whom love is anything but easy.

Danish director Susanne Bier, whose critically acclaimed previous work ("Brothers") has covered much heavier topics, proves to have a knack for lighter fare, as well. She takes all the familiar tropes of the rom-com genre and turns them deftly on end. The result is a charming, elegant and touching tale about finding love, losing love and ultimately getting on with your life.

Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is a middle-aged hairdresser in Copenhagen who is eager to travel to Italy for her daughter's wedding. But the trip doesn't get off to a great start. After discovering her husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia), in flagrante delicto with Thilde from accounting, a clearly rattled Ida is left to make the trip on her own. Before she even makes it to the airport, she gets in a fender-bender with an English businessman.

It seems that Philip (Pierce Brosnan) is in a rush to catch a plane for Italy himself - his son is getting married. When they realize their children are about to marry each other, they retreat to their respective corners and do their best to behave civilly to one another.

As the wedding weekend proceeds, some not-unexpected complications crop up to threaten the nuptial bliss.

Whether because of the foreignness of the film's setting , or the unfamiliarity of the film's European cast or the sincere candor of the script, "Love Is All You Need" comes off as much less hackneyed than it would have under the hands of a Hollywood filmmaker.

She coaxes splendid performances out of the entire cast, from the two stars right down to the extras. The film's leads, especially, portray their emotionally bruised characters with touching honesty and not a whit of self-consciousness. Brosnan is the sole familiar face in the crowd here, and proves he had the chops to be a movie leading man. He ably conveys Philip's evolution from a man emotionally frozen by grief to one slowly unveiling his pained vulnerability. When his character finally begins to smile, you feel yourself grinning, too.

Dyrholm's Ida gives Philip plenty to smile about. Subtle plays of emotion flit across her broad, lovely face, which has expressive blue eyes the size of dinner plates as its hallmark. Ida is a complicated melange of strength, resilience, awkwardness, fear and uncertainty, and the actress conveys all with graceful delicacy.

The only sour note in this otherwise delightful film is the soundtrack, which features a heavy-handed use of "That's Amore," and, oddly, no use of the song from which it takes its name.

It's perhaps worth noting that the film's Danish title, "The Bald Hairdresser," is only slightly less awful than it's English one.

But by any name, this film is a winner.

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