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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

TIFF12 Review: Love is All You Need

Susanne Bier’s latest film, Love is All You Need, takes an accessible, easy-to-digest premise – at their children’s wedding, a man who’s closed himself off to love meets a sympathetic woman whose marriage is falling apart – and makes of it a much better film than it sounds on paper, thanks in no small part to a smart screenplay by Anders Thomas Jensen, who’s just good enough at storytelling to pull it all off. I enjoyed this film quite a lot, although I went into it fully prepared for it to be overly saccharine, based on the catalog description. It’s not. Bier and Jensen have crafted an entertaining little slip of a story here, quite Danish in style and with bit of a humorous bent, and if it’s not taking itself too seriously, well, it is at least entertaining to sit with for a couple hours.

The man in question, Phillip (Pierce Brosnan, whose presence also lends heft to keep things from being too fluffy), is a wealthy trader of fruits, and we learn early on that he’s an emotionally impotent, walled-off jerk who rejects any semblance of kindness or connection from others and treats his employees like chattel. Ida (Trine Dyrholm, previously seen in weightier works A Celebration, Troubled Water, and In a Better World) comes home from her final chemotherapy treatment to find her husband, Leif (Kim Bodnia) on their couch balling Tilde-from-accounting, a hot blond who’s keen to make Leif her own man.

Everybody comes together at the wedding of Phillip’s son Patrick ( Sebastian Jessen) to Ida’s daughter Astrid (Molly Blixt Egelind). Also along for the ride is Paprika Steen as Benedikte, Phillip’s brash, brassy sister-in-law, who’s always had a thing for him, and hopes to use the auspicious occasion of the wedding to kindle a little flame of her own. Steen is a terrific actress, one of my favorites of any culture, but Benedikte is so over-the-top that she tends to play a bit more as caricature than character; then again, so is Leif a bit of a caricature, and so is Tilde-from-accounting, so perhaps it was an intentional choice on the part of Bier and Jensen to render the less appealing characters with broader strokes, all the better to contrast and define those that are more firmly on the “good” side – Ida and Phillip, of course, but also Patrick and, especially, Astrid. It all plays a bit like a soap opera, but it’s a mostly entertaining one, and the scenery, especially once everyone goes off to Italy, is stunningly lovely and will make you want to call your travel agent to start planning your next vacation.

I could see this one doing well on the arthouse circuit, boosted by its rom-com-for-older-women sweet spot and the built-in appeal of the undeniably sexy – but also here sometimes bumbling and funny and sweet – Mr. Brosnan. It’s also exactly the kind of nice little film you could easily see some Hollywood studio think about buying remake rights for, after which they would take Jensen’s charming little script, butcher it mightily, cast some older actress (Meg Ryan, perhaps, or if they were sincerely aiming for “good,” maybe Meryl Streep (visions of Mama Mia?) or Toni Collette or Patricia Clarkson in the lead role, and turn it into some overly sentimental, sappy romantic comedy targeted squarely at middle-aged housewives in the Heartland who won’t watch films with subtitles. Here’s hoping that won’t happen; Bier has already done a perfectly fine job here with Jensen’s material, and it wouldn’t hurt some folks to stretch a little and learn to watch films with subtitles anyhow.

One Response to “TIFF12 Review: Love is All You Need”

  1. marianne says:

    butcher it mightily is what will happen if this is made into a remake. leave it alone. broaden your horizons heartland housewives. learn to be a multitaskers and read subtitles. millenium trilogy fanstastic as it is. i will not bother with the lynch version.

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DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato

DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato