When you see the cover for Love is All You Need you realise that this could be one of only two films; a Beatles themed musical or a middle aged romantic comedy. Whilst the latter of those is true, Love is All You Need offers much more than the familiar tropes of that genre.
The film opens up like many other romantic films; with postcard like images of the Italian coastline and the rather clichéd use of Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore’ on the soundtrack. Here in Italy we meet the couple that is about to get married, Patrick and Astrid. The film then jumps to Denmark where we meet Ida (Trine Dyrholm), the mother of Astrid. We find out very quickly that she has been suffering from cancer and has undergone chemotherapy as a result. On returning from a trip to the hospital she discovers her inept husband has been having an affair with his secretary. On the other hand we are introduced to Philip (Pierce Brosnan), Patrick’s father. Philip is a highly successful businessman in the fruit industry but has unfortunately lost his wife in a car accident a few years previously.
Rather conveniently and coincidentally the two meet each other en route to Italy and initially fail to see eye to eye. Philip is an arrogant an impassionate man, where as Ida is emotionally fragile due to her medical treatment and the recent revelation from her husband. Rather than have these two come immediately together in admiration, the film takes its time to feel around these character and actually gets to know them personally, instead of painting them as the stereotypes that you are used to.
Director Suzanne Bier has in the past made well-respected art movies like After the Wedding and In a Better World. Love is All You Need may come as a surprise to anyone who has seen her work before, as this is a much more commercial and fluffy film than what you would expect from her. It borrows a hell of a lot from Mamma Mia of all films, which probably isn’t helped by the casting of Brosnan, who is reliably charming. That being said, it does still carry some thought provoking elements throughout and isn’t playing entirely to the crowd-pleasing market.
Trine Dyrholm is by far the best thing in the film. Rarely do you see actresses, or actors, play roles with such starry eyed wonder anymore, so it is just magnificent to see an actress embrace a role like this. She isn’t completely blown away by Philip or her surroundings for the entire film though. She does find time for brief spurts of sorrow and anger but she is the genuine heart of the movie and there is a lot of heart in her performance.
Love is All You Need is an odd little film. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of romance films yet it is surprisingly compelling and funny. Towards the end it does begin to fall apart a little, as certain incidents apparently have bigger consequences for no apparent reason, yet it still manages to maintain its charm and grace. If anything it’s the film all middle-aged romances should aspire to be. Genuine, loving and not bogged down with traditional formulas, Love is All You Need is refreshingly rewarding.