Romcom with guts
Film Review: Love is All You Need (15A, general release, 116 minutes) Director: Susanne Bier Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen
When miscast, as he often is, Pierce Brosnan can come across like a rather melancholy travelling toothpaste salesman – perfect, lonely and bland. But as he proved a good few years back in The Tailor of Panama, the former 007 is capable of a good deal more than is generally asked of him, and he's excellent playing a misanthropic widower in this surprisingly enjoyable romantic drama from Danish director Susanne Bier. The star of this show, though, is not Brosnan but Trine Dyrholm, who plays a Copenhagen hairdresser with rather a lot on her plate.
Ida has just finished a series of gruelling treatments for breast cancer that have left her disfigured, traumatised and temporarily bald. She's making plans to attend her daughter Astrid's (Molly Blixt Egelind) wedding in southern Italy when she discovers that her husband of 30-odd years has been humping his young secretary.
Leif (Kim Bodnia) then announces that he's leaving Ida to shack up with Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller), a congenital idiot half his age. A distraught Ida is left to attend Astrid's wedding alone, where things get good and farcical when Leif turns up with bimbo in tow. But after a rocky start, Ida becomes strangely drawn to the father of the groom.
An extremely successful businessman, Philip (Brosnan) has withdrawn from the world since the death of his wife in a freak car accident, and now, Mr Darcy-like, hides a tender heart behind a bluff and sometimes rude exterior. At first Ida thinks he's a bit of a dick, and even tells him so, but as their children's disastrous nuptials career out of control, Ida begins to hope that a second chance at love might just be possible.
In less talented hands Love is All You Need might merely have been a frothy confection, but every time the film seems in danger of choking on a ball of mush, Bier pulls it back to earth with salty wit and tinges of genuine darkness. Dyrholm brings real depth to her portrayal of Ida, and Paprika Steen is very good as Philip's sister-in-law. Add Brosnan's elegant melancholy, and the glorious backdrop of Sorrento and Amalfi, and you have an undemanding but charming and genuinely enjoyable romcom.