Love Is All You Need (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Love Is All You Need (2013)

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Start of any great romanceAndrew LIKE BannerLove Is All You Need is the most delightful surprise I've had all year, and 2013 has been no slouch when it comes to great films.  This isn't a surprise artistic triumph, or a tale for the ages.  It's just a wonderful love story told with vibrant colors, exquisite humor, and so many great performances that singling out one is almost a nightmare unto itself.  I haven't felt this genuinely happy watching a film in months.

The secret to its success is a complete lack of modesty about what kind of film it is.  Romantic-comedies are usually pretty dire fare, but the people involved go through the motions with little of the joy that comes with truly being in love.  There is none of that hesitation here.  That also means that there is little surprise to the way the film will end, but it's a joyful trip getting there.

When we start the film, Ida (Trine Dyrnholm), is in recovery after a successful treatment for her breast cancer.  She thought that her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) has stood firm by her throughout the ordeal, but he's been fiddling around with Thilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Müller) to relieve his suffering over Ida's suffering.  Meanwhile, Philip (Pierce Brosnan), a man who has taken himself off the market after the death of his wife, is forced to go on vacation to attend the wedding of his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen) to Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind), who happens to be Ida's daughter.

Romance at twilight has rarely looked as good as it does in this film.

A twilight romance.

The plot may not inspire much confidence in description, but in motion it is a thing of beauty.  The chief weapon in director Susanne Beir's arsenal are the lead performances by Dyrnholm and Brosnan.  Dyrnholm moves through the film with such wide-eyed wonder at every little thing as a result of her treatment that she makes every scene sparkle.   She's the sort of person who is happy to be alive and giggling at soda fountains that don't know when to stop pouring.  Brosnan matches her delight with admiration so earnest my heart started fluttering.

But it's not just the leads who are superb, the delight of the production extends to everyone on the roster.  The young ones, played by Jessen and Egelind, have their own sparkle that's like two best friends searching an abandoned fort for the first time.  Bodnia has room for some surprisingly charming buffoonery at multiple times in the film.  Even the young flirt Thilde, a normally thankless role, is played with such effervescent charm by Schaumburg-Müller that she makes the character stand outside of her narrow path.

I would have been pleased with just the level of the performances, but the screenplay by the Oscar-winning Anders Thomas Jensen keeps things just as light as the cast.  He moves from each scene effortless by crafting people who bounce off each other just right with dialogue that is refreshingly direct.  I absolutely adore Philip's immediate response to Ida's somewhat long-winded question about why anyone would want to work for someone as mean to his employees as he is.  Without missing a beat Philip responds, "I pay them good money."  His clutter-free dialogue and plotting kept me laughing and engaged with no distraction.

Fighting for my heart

The cast is uniformly excellent, but the mother / daughter combo played by Trine Dyrnholm and Molly Blixt Egelind were fighting for control of my heart the entire time.

Bier's direction makes everything else sparkle.  One decision she made that I adored was the way each character spoke in their native tongue but still understood one another.  Scenes flourished with Italian, Dutch, and English all spoken and no one missing a beat.  The free beauty of language is replicated in the colors for this film.  It is so vibrant that it made me feel like the old days of three-strip technicolor were back as each scene exploded with many intermingling displays.  Bier also has a delightful way of keeping Ida and Philip isolated just so from everyone, most wonderfully in one scene where they seem to be taking a beautiful stroll all alone, only to have Leif and Thilde burden them with questions, and then the rest of the family join in with their chatter.

Even with all that excellent execution there is still room in Bier's film to reverse other expectations.  I loved that the typical gender roles so rigidly enforced by romantic comedies were constantly being toyed with.  Astrid is doing this quite a bit, in one moment giddily chuckling with her husband-to-be as she carries him over the threshold.   The ending, too, defies expectation by toying with the romantic charge that still has people recalling An Officer and a Gentleman so fondly.

There is so much more that delighted me about this film.  It captures the pure joy of unfiltered romance so well that I can forgive its cheesy soundtrack decisions.  Sometimes you just get this song in your head and you don't care who can hear.

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Tail - Love Is All You NeedLove Is All You Need (2013)

Directed by Susanne Bier.
Screenplay written by Anders Thomas Jensen.
Starring Trine Dyrnholm and Pierce Brosnan.

Posted by Andrew

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