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
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tv Review: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series began tonight with a feature-length special
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
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.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee