MRR Review: "Love Is All You Need"

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A Danish romantic comedy film co-written & directed by Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan & Trine Dyrholm. A hairdresser who has lost her own hair to cancer finds out her husband is having an affair, travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding and meets a widower who still blames the world for the loss of his wife.
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MRR Review: "Love Is All You Need"

-- Rating: R (brief sexuality, nudity, and some language)
Length: 116 min
Release date: Sept. 6, 2012
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Genre: Comedy, Romance

"Love Is All You Need" is the heartwarming tale of a woman who loses and finds herself through arduous cancer treatments. Ida, played by Trine Dyrholm, plays a hairdresser who loses all her hair due to the extensive cancer treatment she must go through. At the end of her treatment, she makes the shocking discovery that her husband of many years is having an affair with his much younger secretary. Shamed and furious, Ida chooses to attend her daughter's wedding in Italy alone.

Ida's daughter, Astrid, is getting married to a young man named Patrick. Ida meets Patrick's father, Philip, who is played by the legendary "James Bond" actor Pierce Brosnan. Philip is a world weary man whose wife was taken from him much too early. Philip is cynical and bitter, blaming God and the world around him for the loss of his wife. Ida's optimism in spite of her circumstances initially rubs Philip the wrong way, but he slowly warms up to her, and an unexpected relationship blossoms in the picturesque Italian countryside.

Many critics and movie fans alike first saw "Love Is All You Need" because of Pierce Brosnan. The famous actor does not disappoint in this lovable film. Philip is abrasive at first, but it soon becomes impossible not to like him. As his character warms up to Ida, the audience has no choice but to warm up to him. His sense of betrayal over the loss of his wife is both relatable and heartbreaking. Even as he discovers that his cynicism and bitterness are misplaced and are keeping him from living his life fully the way his late wife would want, the viewer understands how and why he behaves the way he does. Ida eventually breaks down his walls and helps him to realize that the best way to honor his wife is to live his own life with her spirit of adventure, gratitude, and openness.

The love between Ida and Philip is slow to blossom and makes for a stark contrast to Ida's selfish husband and his affair with his young secretary. "Love Is All You Need" shows that love really does come at any age and sometimes when you least expect it-and, in Philip's case, sometimes when you least want it. Patrick and Astrid are strong characters in their own right, and their romance is a strong supporting element to the story. Like most young couples, they must learn that the wedding is just the beginning and go through their own trials before they even get the chance to walk down the aisle. The tension sparked when Patrick and Astrid find out about their parents' mutual affections adds an element of drama to a story that might otherwise be too sweet and light.

While the supporting cast offers solid and relatable performances, Dyrholm's portrayal of Ida steals the show in this film. Her character is so honest and vulnerable that viewers identify with her from beginning to end. Her journey begins with the harsh reality of her husband's infidelity and sends the life she thought she had spiraling into uncertainty. As a hairdresser, Ida's hair is her pride and joy, so losing it to the treatment makes the sting of her husband choosing a younger woman over her even sharper. Her willingness to move on is commendable and offers a stark contrast to Philip's character, who is stuck in the past and perpetually mourning the death of his wife.

The picturesque scenery is what really pulls "Love Is All You Need" together. Patrick and Astrid choose an incredibly beautiful backdrop to their wedding, and while their relationship may not always be ideal, their surroundings certainly are. The cinematography is masterful at capturing the breathtaking views of the Italian countryside with its lush pastures and decadent vineyards. The setting brings the romance between Ida and Philip alive in a unique and beautiful way. Wine is a heavy theme throughout the film, serving as a visual metaphor for the fact that love, like many things, often gets sweeter with age.

While the film is filled with fluff at times, the solid performances of Brosnan and Dyrholm are enough to keep it from venturing too far. The twist of Ida and Philip finding love at the wedding between their children adds to what would otherwise be a formulaic romance film. Ida's personal journey of rediscovering herself and Philip's quest to let go of his wife and start enjoying life again both redeem the film and give it substance.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars