Love Is All You Need: sloppy and sentimental
by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
During the infamous press conference at the Cannes Film Festival in which Lars Von Trier declared his sympathies for Hitler (it was all a bad joke but the backlash was tremendous), the director of Melancholia also threw a few barbs at fellow Danish director Susanne Bier. For Von Trier, Bier is a lightweight and her work is too easy on the audience.
Initially, I disagreed with Lars. Susanne Bier was responsible for the potent dramas Brothers, Things We Lost in the Fire and the Oscar winner In a Better World. Alas, time would prove Von Trier right: Bier’s latest, Love Is All You Need, is so infused with “feelings” it should play on a triple bill alongside Eat Pray Love and Under the Tuscan Sun.
Stay-at-home mom Ida (Trine Dyrholm) believes she has trounced cancer and is ready to resume her everyday life. The normalcy she craves goes out of the window when she discovers her husband is having an affair. The timing couldn’t be worse: their daughter is getting married in a seaside Italian villa and Ida is expected to help. On the verge of a breakdown, Ida rear-ends a rude British millionaire (Brosnan), who turns out to be the father of the groom. A record number of tearful confessions ensue and Ida finds herself torn between her unfaithful fat slob of a husband and 007. I wonder who she’ll choose.
As soap-operatic as it gets, Love Is All You Need has one saving grace: the superb Trine Dyrholm (unrecognizable from A Royal Affair). Dyrholm creates a well-rounded character, as opposed to everyone else who’s too busy having “feelings” to be believable as human beings. Brosnan, not the most flexible of performers, keeps the histrionics to a minimum and we are thankful for that (also, no singing!).
Bier works in broad strokes (the Italian holiday is the ultimate bourgeoisie cliché) but unlike her previous efforts, she has nothing interesting to say about the human condition. Love Is All You Need is beautiful to look at but often feels like a camera test for Mamma Mia. Especially with the dashing Brosnan around and Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” playing on a loop.