The formula is as false as ever in the romantic comedy “Love Is All You Need.” But between cliches, director Susanne Bier supplies wonderful sparkle as her characters fall in love amid wedding-party minidramas in an Italian landscape overly conducive to sunset scenes.
Bier is known for making tragedy-laced family-centered melodramas such as “Brothers” and “In a Better World.” Changing gears, she now presents a semi-Danish pastry containing a Hollywood rom-com recipe shaded with signature serio-touches. It’s lightweight but engaging enough.
Bier opens with a recording of Dean Martin crooning “That’s Amore,” no fooling, and we soon meet Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a cheery Copenhagen hairdresser.
Having recently undergone surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer, Ida experiences another whammy when she discovers her husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia), and “Tilde from accounting” (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller) on the sofa, having an affair.
Shocked, Ida leaves for Italy to attend the wedding of her daughter, Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), to boyfriend Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) at a villa owned by Patrick’s grieving widower father, Philip (Pierce Brosnan).
Ida and Philip meet cute, clash briefly, and, in picturesque Italian lemon groves ... you know the rest.
Supporting characters provide a whirl of activity involving familial dysfunction and workings of the heart.
Leif callously arrives for the wedding with his IQ-challenged mistress in tow. Philip’s self-centered sister-in-law, Benedikte (Paprika Steen), who desires Philip, behaves horridly.
Benedikte’s angry teenage daughter (Frederikke Thomassen) increases the quirkiness. The bride and groom don’t seem lovey-dovey.
Ida and Philip’s romance unfolds predictably; the cliched rom-com formula deserves the heave-ho. Bier doesn’t explore the farcical routes that seem inherent in a story in which the parents of the bride and groom generate more romantic sparks than their altar-bound children.
And Bier’s lightweight tone doesn’t suit the themes of cancer and grief. As scripted by Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen, Ida is too flawless.
Still, Bier, as usual, remains plugged into her characters’ emotional journeys. When placing her camera on her capable actors and letting them connect — the post-chemo Ida emerging naked and wigless from the sea and sharing meaningful eye contact with Philip is particularly memorable — she serves some exquisite material.
While Brosnan supplies leading-man charisma, it is Dyrholm who keeps viewers caring. The actress, seen in “The Celebration” and “In a Better World,” creates an open, immensely embraceable character. While it is frustrating that Bier doesn’t take her deeper, we would follow Ida practically anywhere.
In the end, the movie qualifies as worthy and scenic cusp-of-summer escapism. Bier will likely return to her superior darker palette soon. In the meantime, suppress your grander expectations and roll with this one.
Love Is All You Need ???
Starring Trine Dyrholm, Pierce Brosnan, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastian Jessen
Written by Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen
Directed by Susanne Bier
Running time 1 hour, 50 minutes