Some things are charming about European films that ape Hollywood, the same way that seeing yourself reflected through a funhouse mirror can be. The sentiments aren’t quite as saccharine. The obnoxious characters are a touch nastier. Some subplots aren’t tidily resolved. Yet despite those deviations, the gist is essentially the same. Such is the case with Love Is All You Need, Susanne Bier’s take on a Nancy Meyers rom-com. It’s all here, from the house-porn of Italian seaside villas to the farcical tale of couples forged and dissolved. Philip (Pierce Brosnan) and Ida (Trine Dyrholm) are given a wholly unnecessary meet-cute (she crashes her car into his) on the way from Denmark to Italy, where Philip’s son is marrying Ida’s daughter. As extended family joins, the film veers from the dramatic (Ida has breast cancer and her husband has left her) to the comic (the husband arrives, floozy in tow) to the farcical and back again. Formulaic despite its trespasses, Love Is All You Need leaves the lingering sensation that more fun could have been had if the film cut loose and lived a little, as its central characters ultimately—if unoriginally—learn. Its strongest moments come when Bier exceeds the expectations of the genre, as glimpsed in an incorrigibly narcissistic aunt (Paprika Steen) or a key character’s uncertainty about his sexual orientation. In other moments the viewer may sense the whirring of an assembly line’s gears obediently at work.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 6, 2013