LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) and Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) are getting married - in a gorgeous villa on the coast at Sorrento. The villa and surrounding lemon orchard has been rather neglected by fruit & veg tycoon, Patrick's English widower father, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), but after some rapid renovations, it's ready for the family and friends. Astrid's Danish mother Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is in the late stages of chemo treatment for cancer, while her philandering husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) is having an affair with the girl from accounts. They all turn up for the wedding weekend, including Benedikte (Paprika Steen), Philip's sister in law who still resents him being stolen from her by her sister and tries very hard to put things right. But that's the least of the problems the families face ...
Review by Louise Keller:
If love is a potent cocktail, it would be fair to say that the resulting froth intensifies when shaken. This froth, comprising the joys, sorrows, mysteries and ironies of love, is the subject of Susanne Bier's scrumptious romantic comedy set on the dazzling Italian Riviera and as a result, happily puts us through the emotional wringer. I laughed and I cried through all the curves of the narrative that echo the winding roads bordering the spectacular views of the Mediterranean below.
There are no clichés, meaningless banter or trite events: the humour and angst spills naturally from the characters and situations. Tapping directly into the control panel of our emotions, Bier is a gifted filmmaker with strong intuitions and keen perceptions.
In the first economical scenes in which we meet Ida (Trine Dyrholm) with her doctor, watch her response when she finds her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) being unfaithful and glimpse perpetually angry businessman Philip (Pierce Brosnan) growling at his staff in Copenhagen, the goalposts are in place for the main event - the wedding - which is about to take place in the South of Italy.
Then Ida and Philip (parents of the future bride and groom) meet - in prickly circumstances in the airport car park, involving a damaged car, a displaced wig and a truth slanging match as they make (or make-do) the rest of the journey together. It's the imperceptible little things that occur that make these scene so enjoyable: the look on Brosnan's face as Dyrholm's attempt to pour a cola at the airport lounge overflows with good intentions. And there's that lovely line 'I'm not a dog,' that Ida delivers, when Philip asks her in what area is she trained?
The depth of blue of the dazzling Mediterranean is as intense as the issues surrounding each of the guests staying at Philip's gloriously positioned rustic villa that overlooks the sea and is surrounded by a thriving lemon grove. We inwardly groan as Leif brings Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Müller), his blonde bimbo-mistress along, whose lack of style is as obvious as the sexual advances that the loud, red-head Benedikte (Paprika Steen, scene stealing) makes towards Philip.
The topsy turvy relationship between the bride Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) and groom Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) is in keeping with their pre-wedding jitters, allowing the father/ son relationship between Philip and Patrick and mother/daughter relationship between Ida and Astrid to come into play.
It is the relationship between Dyrholm and Brosnan that forms the film's heart and Bier develops this with such nuance, yet with complete surety. The scene when Ida bares everything, including her chemo-bald head, in a Mediterranean dip, is the moment when Philip sees her through fresh eyes. The way her clear blue eyes sparkle when Philip explains that botanically speaking, the lemon is really a berry, tells us that chemistry is at work. Dyrholm is unforgettable here, her face mirroring her emotions, while Brosnan has never been better. There's good chemistry between them, too.
The cinematography is gorgeous (if this film doesn't make you buy a ticket to Sorrento, nothing will) and the song Amore is used cleverly musically, with orchestrations and context modifying slightly to represent happiness, soulful, romance, irony and hope. The intricate subplots weave together in complex and compelling ways, leaving us with tears in our eyes and laughter in the soul. This is a cocktail worth savouring.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With an impeccable record of dramatic filmmaking (notably Brothers, After the Wedding, In A Better World) Susanne Bier tries her hand at commercial romantic comedy, and I wish she hadn't. Not that the film is bad, but it's rather banal, although a female audience will howl me down. To begin with, to have a film titled with a line reminiscent of one of the most popular Beatles songs only to have That's Amore as the theme song is absurd. It is symbolic, though, of the film's corny heart. (Think Mamma Mia in Italy without Abba.) I should point out that the film's original Danish title means The Bald Hairdesser; why didn't they stick to it?
We meet Ida (the wonderful Trine Dyrholm) in hospital, where we learn she has cancer and has been treated for it with chemo - hence she wears a wig over her now bald head That original title is a clue to the film's central rom-com story - which is not the young couple about to get married.
Not only is she sick and bald, but poor Ida comes home one day to find her unprepossessing husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) atop a bimbo from the office - and this is just days before they are due to fly from Copenhagen to Southern Italy for the wedding weekend. This is the first scene in the film where I felt my confidence in Bier (and her usual collaborator, Anders Thomas Jensen) falter. Leif's behaviour simply isn't convincing. Nor is the fact that he follows an upset Ida, determined not to miss her daughter's wedding, with the bimbo in tow.
There is plenty of eye candy at and around the villa in Sorrento, and Bier doesn't waste any opportunity to use the views to soften us up.
Pierce Brosnan does his best to be both a dry old stick who resents the world since his wife's death and has stayed rather distant from his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), and a suave and caring man with charm when he wants to turn it on. He's ideally cast for the target market, of course. But it's Dyrholm who walks away with the film's acting honours, as she is buffeted between one disappointment and the next, between one upswing and the next downswing, between a crappy husband and a repentant one .... etc.
Paprika Steen is a standout in bitchy cougar mode, a tad overdone but fun all the same, and Molly Blixt Egelind excels as Astrid the bride.
Bier's stock in trade has always been the refined, universally relevant melodrama, elevated to powerful drama by her sensibilities. For all the attempts at stuffing dramatic elements and character twists into this story, it doesn't inflate.
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LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (M)
Den skaldede frisør
CAST: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen, Christiane Schamburg-Muller, Bodeil Jorgensen, Sebastian Jessen, Stina Ekblad
PRODUCER: Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Vibeke Windelov
DIRECTOR: Susanne Bier
SCRIPT: Anders Thomas Jensen
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Morten Soborg
EDITOR: Pernille Bech Christensen
MUSIC: Johan Soderqvist
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Peter Grant
RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 13, 2012