Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need

Directed by Susanne Bier. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastian Jessen, Paprika Steen, Kim Bodnia, Christiane Schaumburg-Muller, Micky Skeel Hansen. (2012, R, 117 min.)

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 31, 2013

As romantic comedies go, Danish helmer Susanne Bier’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning In a Better World, percolates more than it froths – but that’s a good thing. Steeping in its flavors rather than chasing bubbly gags, Love Is All You Need breaks no new narrative ground but trusts the genre’s formulas to provide the underpinnings for a realistic comedy about marriage and its discontents. That the film’s central couple are a middle-aged pair only heightens the film’s sense of realism over idealism, even as Italy’s Amalfi-coast setting where much of the film transpires recalls the romantic surrounding of films such as Under the Tuscan Sun and Mamma Mia!

Since Pierce Brosnan stars here as he did in Mamma Mia!, a certain amount of comparison seems unavoidable, as the viewer might occasionally fear that the actor will break into an uncontrollable burst of song and dance. But have no worries. Philip, the widower Brosnan plays in Love Is All You Need, is a dour businessman who would probably recoil from ABBA even more than he does from his own family and employees. He and Ida (Trine Dyrholm) meet cute in an airport parking garage when she accidentally backs her subcompact into his luxury vehicle. Ida is a cancer survivor who has recently completed breast surgery and chemotherapy, and the uncertainty regarding her future has already put a chink in her naturally sunny disposition. Then she comes home from a hospital appointment to find her husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia), on the couple’s living-room couch schtupping a woman (“Thilde from accounting,” played by Christiane Schaumburg-Muller) half her age. Complicating matters is the upcoming wedding in Italy of their daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind) to Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), whom she has only known for three months. Of course, the man she literally bumps into while traveling alone to Italy is none other than the father of the groom, Philip. It’s hardly love at first sight, though: In true romantic-comedy fashion, he thinks she’s an idiot, and she thinks he’s a jerk.

Nothing occurs in Love Is All You Need that you can’t see coming from a mile away. There’s the premarital jitters of the betrothed, the monstrously self-deluded sister-in-law of Philip (Paprika Steen, in a hilarious turn), and Leif’s boorish behavior in bringing his young new squeeze to the wedding. In the hands of a master farceur, these would be the ingredients for rollicking humor. Bier and her screenwriter and regular collaborator Anders Thomas Jensen aim elsewhere. There are smiles and laughter to be found in Love Is All You Need, but they’re not the gossamer sort that evaporate in the moonlight.

More Susanne Bier
Morality at Play
Morality at Play
Different worlds, but universal woes

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 11, 2011

More Susanne Bier Films
A Second Chance
A cop steals a junkie couple's endangered baby for his grieving wife

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 4, 2015

In a Better World
This Danish import by Susanne Bier deservedly won this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Marjorie Baumgarten, April 29, 2011

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
The Last Word
A young writer has to pen a woman's obituary before she dies

March 24, 2017

Actor Martinez
A meta-movie about a struggling actor

March 24, 2017


Love Is All You Need, Susanne Bier, Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastian Jessen, Paprika Steen, Kim Bodnia, Christiane Schaumburg-Muller, Micky Skeel Hansen

This content has not been formatted for this window size.
Please increase the size of your browser window, or revisit this page on a mobile device.
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)