FILM REVIEW: Love Is All You Need (15)

In her recent films, Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier has meditated on the ability of the human spirit to endure all-consuming grief.

Perhaps hankering for some light relief, she dons her sunglasses and SPF25 for this life-affirming comedy set at an idyllic villa on the breathtaking Sorrentine Peninsula.

Love Is All You Need is an appealingly frothy confection about two damaged souls offered a second chance at happiness when they least expect but most need it.

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The script, written by Anders Thomas Jensen, lacks the subtleties and emotional layers of their earlier collaborations: Brothers, After The Wedding and In A Better World.

However, feel-good rom-coms abide by certain hoary conventions and Jensen obliges, including repeated blasts of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” on the soundtrack to accentuate the flirtatious mood.

The literal translation of the film’s Danish title Den Skaldede Frisor is The Bald Hairdresser and this succinctly sums up heroine Ida (Trine Dyrholm), who has undergone chemotherapy as part of her breast cancer treatment.

Ida returns home from a check up to find her oafish husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) in flagrante delicto with blonde accountant Tilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller).

It’s a devastating blow and Ida leaves him to catch a flight to Sorrento, where their daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) is due to marry her handsome fiance Patrick (Sebastian Jessen).

In the airport car park, Ida absent-mindedly backs into a car being driven by English widower Philip (Pierce Brosnan), who has thrown himself into his work - fruit and vegetable wholesale - following the death of his wife.

It transpires that Philip is Patrick’s father and is also heading to the ceremony.

En route, Ida overhears Philip berating one of his employees on the telephone and she scolds his rudeness: “I really don’t understand why anybody will work for you!”

Her tenderness and honesty are a tonic, kindling a spark of attraction between the strangers.

Personal relationships become strained when Ida’s cheating husband arrives with Tilde in tow.

Meanwhile, Philip’s monstrous sister-in-law (Paprika Steen) makes it abundantly clear what she intends to eat for breakfast: him.

“I love you, you love me, you always did. Perfect match!” she growls.

The wedding conceit and sun-baked locales of Bier’s film conjure fond memories of Mamma Mia! but Love Is All You Need dodges the ABBA songbook while still peddling a winning formula of fizzing dialogue and longing glances.

The script moves fluidly between Danish and English, galvanised by sparkling screen chemistry between Brosnan and Dyrholm.

Female characters are sketched in far greater detail than the men, who - Philip aside - are plot devices to facilitate heartache or happy ever afters.

We spot underlying tensions between Astrid and Patrick before any of the characters, and knowing the ending in advance, we can settle back and enjoy the fireworks.


Released: April 19 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas) 116 mins