Review: Love Is All You Need (2013)

Love Is All You Need

Adored Danish director Susanne Bier follows up the Academy Award winning In A Better World with Love Is All You Need: an altogether light and fluffy European rom-com that barely contains enough twinkling charm and picture perfect exotic scenery to excuse Anders Thomas Jensen’s otherwise uninspiring screenplay. It’s harmless though, and will likely appeal to those longing for syrupy romance.

Cancer survivor Ida (Trine Dyrholm) finds herself alone at her daughter’s (Molly Blixt Egelind) wedding after separating from her cheating husband, Lief (Kim Bodnia). However, after an awkward run in at the airport, Ida develops a bond with the groom’s cynical father, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), and the pair grow closer as they each attempt to prepare their children for their upcoming nuptials while overcoming problems of their own.

Jensen’s screenplay presents an easy-to-digest narrative about self-discovery and love that promises to be funny and heartwarming, yet more often than not ends up being sickly sweet. It’s not that there’s an absence of drama (each character comes with their own baggage, not least Ida’s struggles with her own personality post-cancer), rather that those issues are merely skimmed over in favour of presenting exotic scenery and moonlit parties.

Even when everything comes to a head in the final act, there’s a noticeable lack of interest and depth in the way its presented that does little to reward the audiences investment. It’s as if Bier and Jensen are far more interested in creating a wistful, overly sentimental getaway than something that’s truly worth the time and effort that was likely put into bringing it to the screen. What’s worse, is that it endorses the ridiculous idea that sun, sea and passion will cure even the most difficult of problems.

It’s merciful, then, that it’s so beautiful to look out. There may be little to chew on narrative wise, but the locations are beautifully captured by Morten Søborg’s idealistic cinematography and Bier’s directorial style adds a dream-like texture to proceedings that, to some extent, vindicate the upbeat vibe the film basks in. The performances, too, are charming enough, with Dryholm in particular doing solid work and Brosnan fitting his role as a sleazy businessman well.

Love Is All You Need may mean well, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of effort made on Bier and Jensen’s part to make this any more than a shiny and annoyingly charming postcard rom-com. The performances and beautiful visuals (the abundant use of primary colours alone are enough to give anyone a headache) provide minor distraction from the simpleness of the screenplay, but there’s simply not enough here to engage.

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