Deborah Ross

Cinema: Love Is All You Need

Cinema: Love Is All You Need
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Love Is All You Need

Key Cities, 15

Love Is All You Need is a romantic comedy that isn’t romantic or comic or much of anything. It stars Pierce Brosnan as Philip, a widowed, all-work-no-play Englishman working in Denmark whose son is about to get married in Italy. Meanwhile, across town, the mother of the bride, Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a hairdresser who wears a wig because she’s lost all her own hair to chemotherapy, has just discovered her husband is playing away from home with pretty young Thilde from accounts.

Films are always full of middle-aged men playing away from home with pretty young Thildes from accounts, but have you ever wandered into a company’s accounts department? If you have, I’m betting you didn’t exclaim, ‘Wow, this room is packed full of hot tottie; this is wall-to-wall Thildes!’ This is one of those cinema tropes I suppose I should be over by now, and would be, if it didn’t incense me every time, Actually no, not incense. It just makes me yawn, and not one of those little yawns you can stifle, but one of those big, noisy, exaggerated ones that are also making a point.

Anyway, Philip drives to the airport and Ida drives to the airport and in the airport car park Ida reverses her car into Philip’s car. This, it turns out, is the first time they’ve ever met because brides and grooms never introduce their parents to each other before a wedding, particularly in Copenhagen, where it may actually be against the law. So Philip and Ida have this prang, and then what happens?

Is it:

1) Philip is so enraged he bursts a blood vessel in his brain, keels over and dies; film over?

2) Ida cannot forgive herself for being such a Stupid Woman Driver so jumps from the top storey of the car park, and breaks her neck; film over?

3) Ida and Philip, being vulnerable and lonely in their own particular ways, eventually fall in love and snuggle up on a bench overlooking the sea, her head on his shoulder?

A spoiler? You really thought it could be 1 or 2? But it’s as weird as it’s not weird. It’s not weird because it’s the way things happen in romantic comedies when a woman in a Fiat collides with a man in a Bentley and he shakes his fist at her? It’s like when two people who hate each other are forced to work together. Chances of them not being an item by the end of the film? Nil. And weird? Because it’s written and directed by Susanne Bier, the Oscar-winning director of In a Better World. Oh well, I suppose we all have our off days. I certainly have my off days. As a rule, I would even say I’m more off than on.

So, they arrive in Italy. It’s Sorrento, I think, and it’s breathtakingly beautiful, in that tourist office fetishised way: all lemon groves and cliff tops and an azure sea. It’s much like the backdrop to Mamma Mia, although don’t fret, Pierce doesn’t sing. It’s a close-run thing on one or two occasions — oh no, he’s going to sing! — but it’s OK. Philip, it turns out, is some kind of fruit and veg importer-exporter who owns a lemon grove here, and an old villa he hasn’t visited for years, since his wife died. The bride and groom, Astrid and Patrick, who had arrived a few days earlier, have opened it up. The villa was in a dreadful state when Astrid and Patrick first opened the door, and you could see it would take weeks and weeks to get it into any kind of shape, but they manage to get it all renovated and gorgeous in an afternoon. I wish they’d come and do my house.

The guests gather. Ida’s husband turns up, with Thilde, who is young and pretty but so thick, who is to say the husband won’t be hankering for his wife again? (Who, who?) And there is also Philip’s sister-in-law, who is meant, I think, to be the primary comic character, the one who blurts out unwelcome truths at pre-wedding dinners, but she is so at odds with the otherwise syrupy tone of the thing, and so vile to her own child, she just introduces a kind of clumsy ugliness. Meanwhile, Astrid and Patrick have their own issues, and Ida? She goes swimming in the sea, sans wig, and Philip sees her bald head, and is kind.

This is a film without any kind of wit or nuance although I am guessing if it weren’t Mr Brosnan, for whom I have a soft spot, and Ms Dyrholm, who is, apparently, ‘the Meryl Streep of Denmark’, it would be at least 567 times worse. Still, a big yawn is all it deserves or, better still, why not treat yourself to a 112-minute snooze? You won’t miss a thing.