Susanne Bier, 112 mins, 15

Film review: Love Is All You Need - Mamma Mia! Brosnan's sweet, sun-drenched romance looks familiar ...

3.00

 

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

A blue-eyed blonde in her early twenties is getting married in an Edenic Mediterranean hideaway. Pierce Brosnan jets in, wearing a linen shirt with the top three buttons undone, and the bride's mother goes all gooey at the sight of his chest hair. True, the sun-kissed resort in Love Is All You Need is in Italy rather than Greece, and nobody murders any Abba songs – although "That's Amore" is heard more times than should be legal – but it's impossible to see the film without assuming that its Danish director, Susanne Bier, saw Mamma Mia! and decided to cash in.

Still, even if Bier's fairy-light-festooned, Mills & Boon fantasy deserves to be arrested for forgery, it's sweet and sensitive enough for us to let it off with a caution. And considering that romantic comedies are dominated by frat-age Americans, it's a gratifying change whenever the star-crossed lovers have been around the block, and have the waistlines and frown lines to prove it. Brosnan's character was widowed 20 years ago, and he's been buried in his Copenhagen-based fruit-and-veg empire ever since, while the bride's mother (Trine Dyrholm) is a breast-cancer survivor who has just caught her husband on the settee with a woman younger than their daughter.

When Brosnan and Dyrholm stroll through the lemon groves abutting his Sorrento villa, they don't stray too far from Mamma Mia! territory, but they're sufficiently battered and bruised to seem like human beings we can care about, an impression deepened by the film's unhurried pacing and post-Dogme handheld camerawork. The last time Brosnan watched his love interest stride out of the ocean it was Halle Berry in a bikini. This time it's Dyrholm with a bald head and a mastectomy scar.

In recent years, there's been a wave of satirical comedy dramas in which hunky actors play silky-smooth spokesmen for corporate wickedness. The sub-genre got started with Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking and Up In The Air, it continued with Love and Other Drugs, and now comes Promised Land (107 mins, 15 ***), directed by Gus Van Sant, and co-written by its star, Matt Damon, who worked with Van Sant on Good Will Hunting and Gerry.

Damon and Frances McDormand travel around rural America at the behest of an energy company, talking the residents into signing over their land for fracking, i.e. extracting natural gas from deep beneath the soil. Damon's own farming background and boy-next-door charm make him a whizz at this job, but his sales pitch goes down badly in one small town when a science teacher disputes his rosy picture of fracking's benefits. And things get trickier with the arrival of an environmentalist (John Krasinski, also Damon's co-writer) who's even more fresh-faced and affable than he is.

In a Hollywood landscape of superheroes and secret agents, it's refreshing to see a grounded political film about real people with real-world concerns. And Promised Land promises at first to be one of the more rewarding ones. It's at its best when Damon is frothing with contempt for anyone who refuses to take the energy company's dollar –daring stuff for an actor who ranks alongside James Stewart and Tom Hanks in the league table of the movies' premier Nice Guys.

But if those scenes give us a glimpse of the tough and challenging issue drama which Promised Land might have been, the rest of the film is far more laid back. It ambles along, stopping to take in the scenery, and devoting much of its running time to Damon's flirtation with Rosemarie DeWitt, one of those attractive yet conveniently single teachers who crop up in every film and TV series about a city slicker visiting the sticks. No story of impossible choices in a ruined economy should be quite as mellow as this.

Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London