Film review: Love Is All You Need - smooth moves from that old devil Pierce Brosnan

3.00

(15)

Not all drama coming out of Denmark at the moment features moody lighting, troubled police detectives and must-have jumpers.

Love Is All You Need dips a Danish toe into romantic comedy, steeping itself in the sunstruck colours and emollient rhythms of la bella Italia. What's more, it stars Pierce Brosnan as bait for those filmgoers who loved his older-guy moves in Mamma Mia! And the good news for everyone is that he doesn't sing.

He plays morose widower Philip, so committed to his fruit-and-veg business that he says things like "Radishes are the top priority" without expecting to be laughed at. En route to his son's wedding in Italy, his car is accidentally pranged at the airport by a distressed driver. This would be Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a Copenhagen hairdresser still recovering from chemo (her wig poignantly slips post-prang) and the revelation of her husband's infidelity.

Philip is furious but finds himself obliged to companion Ida on the plane once it's established that she's the mother of the girl his son's about to marry. And so we strap ourselves in for a trip to the Amalfi Coast, where Philip has a hilltop house, handsome, romantic yet neglected since his bereavement. Could it possibly be symbolic of something?

There are two surprising aspects to Love Is All You Need. The first is its reluctance to deviate from genre. The characters all come from stock, starting with the bride and groom who are having panicky second thoughts about the forthcoming nuptials. Then there's the brassy sister-in-law (Paprika Steen), who's always fancied Philip and now sees her chance to nail him. And how about Ida's oafish husband (Kim Bodnia), who brings along that blonde bimbette he has been diddling?

The shenanigans that ensue will not tax your powers of prediction. The second, odder surprise is that it's directed by Susanne Bier, whose previous form is built on angsty familial dramas such as Brothers, After the Wedding and In a Better World, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011. Set against this CV, the idea of people wandering through lemon groves and skinny-dipping in the bay looks positively frivolous.

True, these two families are enduring some turbulence, but it's all heavily signposted. If you can't work out what's causing the bridegroom his dark night of the soul, then you've probably been asleep. What keeps us on its side is the understated playing of the two leads. Trine Dyrholm, who first came to notice in a very different Danish celebration movie, Festen (1998), has startling indigo eyes that just occasionally brim from the pressure of home and health scares. Yet she has a gentleness of expression that's very disarming.

Brosnan is also good as the working stiff who has never learned to relax, and inches towards sympathy with his weary good manners. And then almost loses it when he savagely denounces one of the guests. It's another instance of the screenplay (by Anders Thomas Jensen) being over-emphatic and not trusting the audience to get it. That goes for the repeated theme song. If you're a bit sick of Dean Martin's "That's Amore", you will hate it by the end of this.

Love Is All You Need plays it safe, right down to the change of title – in Denmark it was called "The Bald Hairdresser" (not great either) – but as a draught of cinematic Ovaltine it goes down quite agreeably.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
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.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits