Love Is All You Need
Opens Fri., May 24 at Seven Gables & Meridian. Rated R. 110 minutes.
Philip and Ida, who meet cute at their grown children’s wedding in Italy, may not be your ideal couple, but they’re probably the future model of moviegoing couples that Hollywood should woo. Both are well past 40. For their generation, date night means more than Chinese delivery and Netflix. There are proprieties to be observed, important social rituals, basic courtesies. If cancer-survivor Ida’s husband is cheating on her with a much younger woman, she should kick him out. If workaholic produce magnate Philip (Pierce Brosnan) should yell at the Danish Ida (Trine Dyrholm) for hitting his car in the Copenhagen airport garage, he should apologize profusely when he realizes his son and her daughter are to wed. And though a grouch, the widowed Philip does apologize. Good manners still count for something.
After that, with kids and kin gathered for a wedding weekend at Philip’s Sorrento estate, Susanne Bier’s romantic comedy runs strictly according to plan. Hairdresser Ida begins to reveal the effects of her chemotherapy, goes swimming in the nude, and Philip politely averts his eyes. Both tolerate their boorish relations; both respond appropriately when their kids (Molly Blixt Egelind and Sebastian Jessen) begin to hesitate before the altar. If one match falters, another can be lit. (Amid this nuptial confusion of three languages, with Danish and Italian being thrown at him, Brosnan invariably answers in English—like he’s got a Google-translate chip in his brain.)
Bier (Open Hearts, In a Better World ) is unapologetic about constructing this wishful midlife rom-com. And if her story is entirely predictable, it’s also filled with agreeable characters and genuine emotions. The lemon groves and scenery also give it a travelogue aspect; Bier even films the rehearsal dinner by candlelight, recalling The Celebration, whose Paprika Steen here plays Philip’s amusingly tart, predatory sister-in-law Benedikte. Her reticent opposite is Ida, given a kind of beatific, expectant glow by Dyrholm. If Philip’s the frustrated botanist, Ida is the tulip bulb who just needs some careful tending to bloom.