Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dryholm star in Love Is All You Need Photo courtesy of Sony Classics
I went to see a wonderful film at the Academy on Sunday, one which went into general release last week. And I want to alert my Huffington readers to it before it disappeared into the miasma of unappreciated movies which we wish we had seen. It is called Love Is All You Need, a horrible title which I can never remember, probably a bad translation from the Danish, which is its native language... The film has English subtitles in part when the characters speak in that language or Italian. But never fear, it is not really a foreign film, even though the majority of the movie was filmed and is set in Italy. This is the 'movie' Italy of ravishing sunsets, picturesque seaside villages where fishermen mend their nets, laughing Italians roasting meats, fast motorboats to a woodsy area populated by lemon groves and a vacation home owned by Pierce Brosnan... not the 'real' Italy of ridiculous politicians and horrifying Amanda Knox judges.
Poster for the film.
The James Bond star has aged gracefully, here playing an Englishman living in Copenhagen after his Danish wife died some years before in a tragic auto accident. Somewhat estranged from his son, he is grumpy, contentious, misogynistic, angry with the world and taking it out on his employees of a food-and-vegetable import company. A revelation (to me) is the noted Danish actress Trine Dyrholm who co-stars with Pierce and actually steals the picture -- and your heart -- in the role of Ida, a middle-aged hairdresser who has just finished a chemotherapy season for breast cancer.
She is not conventionally attractive, in fact somewhat plain-looking... until by the end of the film she appears ravishingly beautiful to all of us in the audience. (Joe Morganstern is right when he compares her to Fellini's wife, the haunting actress Giulietta Massini.) Here is my contribution to the marketers of the movie...It put a smile on my face and a tear in my eyes.
Brilliantly directed by Suzanne Bier, whose work I know from two films, which were nominated in past years for Best Foreign Film in the Oscar race. In 2006 she directed "After the Wedding" which was nominated, and she won best foreign film in 2011 for "In a Better World," an examination of two troubled families. Here she and collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen have set the situation up early: Brosnan's son, Patrick, has met Ida's daughter, Astrid, three months ago and they are planning to marry in Brosnan's long-empty vacation home in Sorrento overlooking the Bay of Naples. Much family is invited and planning to attend. Brosnan and Trine meet 'cute' in the airport parking lot when she crashes her tiny car into his big Mercedes. Not an auspicious beginning to the wedding celebration. (Kind of strange that the father and mother of the bride-and-groom had not yet met, but put that aside.) However, something is rotten in Denmark, as Shakespeare noted. Ida has just found her husband in fragrante delicto on their living room couch with a young girl from his accounting office, and those two also end up at the wedding. Off to Italy, family and friends, and that's when the film really begins.
"Smell this" says Pierce to Trine.
My ex saw the film the same day that I did, and we compared notes last night. She asked me why I loved it (as did she), and I explained that it was poignant, funny, touching, and -- most exciting -- real and human. The situations, the dialogue, the behavior... all rang so true I was smiling inside at the recognition of these human emotions... much of it done to Dean Martin singing "That's Amore." I won't do any more spoilers, but there is one lovely scene early on in the Italian sequence when Pierce walks down to the beach in the morning and spots Ida swimming in the open sea. When she fearlessly emerges from the water stark naked, her wig discarded with her clothes, bald and beautiful, frail and vunerable... just so touching. You can see Brosnan's Philip character beginning to come alive again and feel something beside heartache. Later it culminates when they are together and his cell phone rings... and he throws it into the sea. She incredulously asks him, Why did you do that? but you know that he has made a decision to let love in.
The wedding, of course, is tumultuous and does not go according to plan. Does it ever. But you can't take your eyes off Dyrholm's Ida as she worms her way into your heart with a winsome, enchanting air. Good-hearted optimism is just part of her winning character. Yes, I suppose that I do agree... love is all you need. Just leave yourself open to it.
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