LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED aka THE BALD HAIRDRESSER (2013)
Running Time: 116 mins. Rating: x Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Susanne Bier
Language: English and Danish & Italian w/English subtitles
Distributor: Sony Classics
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Trine Dyrholm, Kim Bodnia, Paprika Steen, Molly Blixt Egelind, Sebastian Jessen, Bodil Jorgensen, Christiane Schaumburg-Muller, Stina Ekblad
If you can get over the repetitions of Harry Warren and Jack Brooks’ 1952 song “That’s Amore,” which is neither Italian nor Danish, you may find a few things to like about Susanne Bier’s LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, which takes place in Copenhagen and Sorrento. Though filled with other clichés of the romantic comedy genre, there is at least one surprise in Anders Thomas Jensen’s screenplay from a story by Thomas and the director—one that I didn’t see coming though there are a few scenes that allow some hints.
The movie is graced by Trine Dyrholm’s expert performance, one that tops even that of Pierre Brosnan. Don’t forget that the picture is filmed by Morten Soborg in Sorrento on Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast, the few indoor scenes taken in Copenhagen contrasting with those taken south of Naples. What’s more, it’s the only rom-com in my memory that highlights both Danish and English, the Danes speaking perfect English and the American (of course) hardly any from the country in which he plies his trade.
Director Bier, whose Oscar-winning IN A BETTER WORLD about a friendship between two Danish families, takes on the risks involved when a lonely but rich American widower meets an unhappily married Dane, the subplot mirrored by the unfolding tale of marriage plans between the widower’s son and the Danish woman’s daughter.
The story opens on Philip (Pierce Brosnan), an American in Copenhagen whose business is selling massive quantities of fruits and vegetables, a job that keeps him busy on the phone, scarcely having time to renovate his properties in southern Italy. Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a Danish hairdresser, has caught her husband Leif (Kim Bodnia) in flagrante with the man’s bimbo co-worker Tilde (Christiane Schaumburg-Muller)— while Ida was expected to be busy at the hospital getting chemotherapy! Philip and Ida meet cute (she crashes into his car in a parking lot in a coincidence that warrants disbelief), they discover that both are about to fly to Sorrento, he to marry off his son Patrick (Sebastian Jessen), she to give away her daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind). Some comic scenes show Ida’s estranged husband at the wedding as well—and with the bimbo Tilde on his arm!
You would think that everything would be close to perfect on the beautiful Amalfi coast, aside from the boorish actions of Ida’s husband, the sullen act by a miserable teen (Frederikke Thomassen), and from Philip’s sister-in-law Benedikte (Paprika Steen), an obnoxious loudmouth who hits on Philip but has grossly miscalculated his affection. But that’s not all! The real kicker is about to turn this wholly conventional film into the borders of soap opera, though to me the coup-de-théâtre was a surprise.
Splendid performances from Trine Dyrholm, last seen in A ROYAL AFFAIR and CELEBRATION and from Paprika Steen as the boor—and one by Pierce Brosnan in a vulnerable role, who in real life is nineteen years older than Dyrholm–make LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED decent albeit not compelling viewing.
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