‘Love is All You Need’ Review: Oscar Winner Susanne Bier Plays Romantic Matchmaker

Coming off her 2011 Best Foreign Film Oscar for “In A Better World,” Danish writer/director Susanne Bier turns to romance in “Love Is All You Need.” The film stars two charming international leads – Pierce Brosnan (a former James Bond, and of more recent films, “The Ghost Writer,” “Mamma Mia”) and acclaimed Danish actress, Trine Dyrholm (“The Celebration,” “A Royal Affair”). “Love Is All You Need” leans more towards adult romantic entanglements as opposed to a fairy tale, comedic romance. This is certainly not a bad thing, but expectations need to be measured. The film has romance, but comedic hijinks are minimal.

Opening in Copenhagen, Ida (Dyrholm) sits in her doctor’s office discussing options for reconstructive surgery after Ida’s breast cancer. Ida declines cosmetic surgery; she feels her husband, Leif (an oafish, Kim Bodnia), likes her for her inner-self, as well as her lemon desserts.

That turns out to be only slightly true when Ida returns home from shopping and catches Leif having sex on their couch with the blonde office accountant, Tilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller). A stumbling Leif manages to twist things around by explaining how hard Ida’s cancer has been on him. He then promises to see Ida at their daughter’s wedding in Sorrento, Italy.

Next up is surly, yet lonely international produce owner Philip (Brosnan) sitting having breakfast in an artistically modern, yet cold office space. It’s all work for widower Philip. Having lost the love of his life, Philip is nothing but terse to his co-workers and family even when they throw a birthday party for him with offers to socialize. He prefers loneliness.

Later, in a “meet cute” sort of way, an already distraught Ida smashes into Philip’s car in an airport-parking garage, and after a flurry of Philip’s insults, Ida bursts into tears. Soon the two discover they’re traveling to the same place and are going to be future in-laws with her daughter, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) marrying his son, Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) at Philip’s Sorrento estate. Philip can barely get away quick enough.

The stage is set for romance, misunderstandings, heartbreaks, and love as the various parties leave Copenhagen heading for the sun drenched Sorrento, Italy (which includes gorgeous scenic shots of Sorrento’s coast).

Co-writer/director Bier proclaims in her film’s production notes, “I wanted to make a film about vulnerable people; about the things in life we’d rather suppress but, if depicted with humor, might lift our spirits.” Along with frequent writing collaborator, Anders Thomas-Jensen, Bier has succeeded in doing just that.

Romance sparkles amongst the Italian scenery and wedding backdrop. Yet, the strength of Bier’s film is that neither the situations nor characters fall into stereotypes. These characters struggle – some with real-life plights, others with misinterpreting situations. There truly are moments of hilarity, mixed with some cringe-inducing family squabbles (as in most family weddings).

Susanne Bier has created a thoughtful and adult-oriented romantic dramedy, with authentic, relatable characters. With the strong performances of Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia and Paprika Steen (as Philip’s deceased wife’s sister), “Love Is All You Need” is a welcome addition for audiences hungry for romantic film fare. The film is also a nice counterpoint to the big action films beginning their early summer roll-outs.

“Love Is All You Need” is 110 minutes, Rated R and opens in Los Angeles and New York, May 3.

For other film reviews by Lori Huck, check out:

‘A Royal Affair’ Film Review: Denmark’s Enlightened Love Triangle

ColCoa French Film Festival 2013: ‘The Attack’ and Its Risk